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HTA turns its 3D printers to producing face masks for NHS staff

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HTA Design is supporting the UK’s response to the coronavirus pandemic by producing face masks for NHS workers on its 3D printers

A small HTA team, led by senior associate Richard Foxley, is using four printers, relocated from its Edinburgh and London offices to employees’ homes, to make the personal protective equipment (PPE). It hopes to make between 50 and 60 masks a day when fully up to speed.

HTA prints head pieces, which are then delivered by DHL to a central hub in Manchester to have plastic visors fitted. Once assembled, the masks are sterilised and packaged, and put into the NHS supply chain.

Foxley said the practice was donating its time and materials ‘because we are all in this together and it’s a national emergency’.

The practice has shared details of its work with Foster + Partners, HOK, PLP Architecture and Perkins & Will with a view to expanding the operation, and is approaching the RIBA to spread the word further.

‘For us, it’s definitely about collaboration and trying to work together for the greater good,’ said Foxley. ‘At its heart architecture is about creating spaces for people and we are in trouble at the moment.’

HTA started making masks last week to an existing open source design but, after Foxley joined an NHS PPE working group, switched yesterday [Wednesday 1 April] to a different design preferred by clinicians. This has reduced printing time from hours to 30 minutes. The smaller unit size also requires fewer materials.

Foxley said a shortage of acetate and plastics for printing could be a hindrance to production.

Anyone who can donate materials or is interested in getting involved in printing masks can contact him at richard.foxley@hta.co.uk. 

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