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3M BIC uses its 3D printers for PPE to help protect key workers

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3D printing facilities at the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre (3M BIC), at the University of Huddersfield, have been harnessed to produce a stream of parts for devices that will shield vital workers during the CV-19 pandemic.

The printers are sited in a space normally used to aid a wide variety of businesses to develop and refine new products. But currently the four Ultimaker machines are dedicated to the production of head and chin restraints that will be fitted to shields designed to protect wearers against transmission of the virus.

The work is being carried out by Janine Downs, who is the 3M BIC’s technology project officer. She volunteered to set up and run the 3D printing production line and aims to turn out 16 sets of the head and chin restraints every day. These components are then sent to a central hub in Sheffield, to be fitted to the transparent shields.

Although the finished devices are not kitemarked for medical use, they are deemed to be valuable protection for people staffing shops – including pharmacies – care homes and other environments. Vital workers such as delivery drivers could also wear them.

The Chief Executive Officer of the 3M BIC, Sue Cooke, said:  “I am extremely proud of the work carried out by Janine and the support team here at 3M BIC to help the national effort to prevent transmission of Covid 19.”  Sue explained that the initiative got under way after registration with the 3D Crowd UK, which is organising The Big Print – a project to marshal the country’s 3D printing sector during the Coronavirus crisis.

Open source data for the head and chin restraints was acquired and production could begin.

It was large-scale funding from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, as part of the Government’s Growth Deal,  that enabled the Huddersfield Innovation and Incubation Project based at the 3M BIC to be equipped with the 3D printing machines, sited in a workshop named The Byte.

Janine Downs said that in normal times, the printers are used by a wide variety of enterprises across the region, for example for the development of new product prototypes to the production of spare parts. For more details see


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