Firms design innovative Covid-19 masks for medics… in a week


Two innovative Inverness companies have joined together to design and create 1,000 face masks for the local Raigmore Hospital.

4c Engineering and Aseptium, which are neighbours in HIE’s Solasta House on the Inverness Campus, contacted the hospital to see if their combined design and rapid manufacture capabilities could meet an urgent need.

The intensive care unit team at Raigmore took up their offer to produce face shields which can protect staff against infection.

This began what was dubbed Project Corran – taken from the Gaelic for crescent – the shape of the face when viewed from above.

The Corran face shield

Working to a clear brief, the team designed the simplest method of providing face protection that would aim to be robust, secure, comfortable to wear and could be rapidly manufactured in volume.

Part way through the design process the supply chain challenge became a lot tougher because of lockdown which severely curtailed the ability to get materials.

But via an appeal led by the Inverness Chamber of Commerce, the business community in the area rallied round to provide what was needed.

After sourcing materials and refining the design throughout last week, a meeting was held on Friday afternoon where the first prototype was presented to Raigmore ICU and Infection Control staff.

They were happy with it exactly as it was, and gave the green light for 1,000 units.

Under the leadership of 4c’s Jenny Allen, the Project Corran team worked right through the weekend in shifts of staff and volunteers, and the first 200 face shields were delivered to Raigmore on Monday afternoon.

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The Corran design is simple, and unlike alternatives does not require 3D printing – it is made of four commonly available components.

The design is being made freely available so that other similar companies can make their own much needed protection for NHS workers.

The only requests are that design credit is given, modified designs have an equally open licence and that manufacture is non-profit.

Wider adoption is already underway; Lochgilphead-based Midton Engineering has taken the design, had it approved by hospitals in Oban and Mid-Argyll and is now moving into manufacture.

Supplies and materials for the project came from Dunelm Mill, James Dow, Highland Office Equipment and Porex Technologies Ltd.

Others who worked on and advised on the project include HIE, SMAS, LifeScan, Glenmore Lodge, Inverness Chamber of Commerce and Varrich Engineering.

4c Engineering director Peter MacDonald said: “The end result of this engineering, procurement and manufacturing challenge is a simple and efficient design, however this is the result of considerable applied innovation to mitigate the supply chain constraints.

“Although national procurement of PPE has been progressing at pace, we were able to ensure that the ICU in Raigmore, our local hospital, was well provided with the first 1,000 Corran face-shields and as we’ve made it open-source we hope that the lessons we’ve learned can be applied by makers across the country and beyond.”

Pawel de Sternberg Stojalowski of Aseptium said: “This project is a testimony to what a collective of engineers can achieve when they face a challenge together. It’s all about community and collaboration.”

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Jenny Allen, of 4c Engineering who managed the production process said: “It’s been amazing working with a talented team to get the job done. Everyone has come up with ideas, discussed problems (how do we have tables close enough to pass the visors along the production line while staying two metres apart?) and got completely stuck in to get the visors to the NHS staff who need it.”



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