Heriot-Watt’s engineers lend expertise to fight COVID-19

A group of biomedical engineers at Heriot-Watt University are working together to manufacture vital supplies for frontline NHS staff amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Academic and technical staff at the University’s Edinburgh campus are using 3D printers and highly-specialist industrial laser cutting machines to produce protective face shields for heathcare staff. The team has received a number of requests from hospitals, care homes and GP surgeries in the area for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and are working with health authorities to reach those most in urgent need.

Project lead Dr Michael Crichton, from the School of Engineering & Physical Sciences, said:

“We’ve all shared concerns about the impact COVID-19 is having on health workers and patients. Our university has a unique mix of skills and equipment with experts in medical technology, engineering design and manufacture.

“We all want to play our part and use our expertise more effectively and rapidly deliver what the NHS needs.”

In total, 12 3D printers and two laser cutting machines are being used at the Edinburgh campus as part of the project, with the aim of producing 200-400 face shields each week. The supplies will then be distributed amongst health centres, nursing homes and hospitals across Scotland.

University Principal, Professor Richard A. Williams, said:

“No one is untouched by the current crisis, and I’m delighted to see our expertise and equipment being put to use to support the NHS.

“We have substantial medical technology and analytics skills at Heriot-Watt and we are collaborating with the wider university community in the UK and internationally on practical research, policy development and supporting government initiatives to beat this virus.”