Norwich Hackspace members rise to the challenge of helping to 3D print face shields to help protect frontline workers as part of the nationwide campaign The Big Print and locally in Norfolk.

Norwich Hackspace members are working at home, using their skills and equipment to make PPE for frontline workers. So far, the Hackspace has paid for materials and new printers from existing funds but the need for PPE continues.

If you can help to support their efforts with money we would be very grateful.

Funds raised will be used to buy printing filament, acetate, cleaning materials and anything else required to help supply PPE where it is needed, locally and nationally.

You can donate to the Norwich Hackspace campaign via this link to our Go Fund Me

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As the Covid-19 crisis continues to build to its peak, there has been a call amongst people with 3D printers to join forces to print face shields and visors.

There are hackspaces, makerspaces, FabLabs, schools, universities all pressing their 3D printers into action, making protective face shields from open-source, freely available approved design files as part of the #TheBigPrint campaign (follow the hashtag on Social Media)

Norwich Hackspace members Brian Norman, Barny Relph, Toby Catlin, Emanuele Gerbino, Ben Norcutt, Alan Childs and Dan Herring responded to the call from the organisers of the Big Print 3D Crowd UK to help to produce 1000s of sets of protective equipment. The 3D Crowd is coordinating the collections and distribution, and Hackspace member Dan Herring is the Norfolk representative, responsible for collecting the printed shields and sending them off by courier (appropriately distanced of course).

To help with the effort, courier company DPD have stepped up and arranged not only to collect batches of prints for free, but also to ship them out to where they’re needed from the central distribution point in Sheffield.

Hackspace members have been using their own printers and materials, plus extra printers and filament that the Hackspace has ordered to increase capacity and enable more members to help. There has been an extra push this week to try and get supplies to where they are most needed for the peak and members have been printing non-stop over the weekend.

The masks take around 2.5 each hours to produce – they have a 3D printed headband and lower piece plus an acetate sheet which has to be hole-punched and trimmed to remove sharp corners, then the shields are cleaned, labelled and bagged before packing in boxes.

Today they are sending nearly 100 faceshield sets to add to the thousands already printed and donated to hospitals, GPs, pharmacies, paramedics and social-care practices around the country. 3DCrowd UK are also fundraising for supplies to help people to keep printing – if you don’t have a 3D printer you can still help the Norwich Hackspace campaign by donating to our Go Fund Me

The 3D Crowd are aiming to produce 80,000 face shields to help plug the gap in national supplies to frontline workers. This target could be higher with additional fundraising and more volunteers, with small contributions adding up to a much-needed number.

As well as joining in the Big Print, some members have been supplying their local doctors surgeries with protective masks. Hackspace member Barny Relph has sent some to his local practice at Hingham – although at the moment, all efforts are going towards the Big Print campaign. #bigprint "I was looking at ways to help in in the fight against the Coronavirus and came across designs for face shields. Within a couple of hours I'd got one printed and was able to offer it for testing to local Doctors and other front-line workers. The local community came forward with acrylic to make the clear part of the shields and we were quickly able to get them out to where they're needed most" said Hackspace member Barny Relph “And I was even able to get the children involved. We constructed the printer together and I showed them how to send files to it. The whole family got busy printing and packing face shields. It’s great to be able to do something active to help”.

Founder member Toby Catlin also recruited his family with daughter, helping to pack face shields. She is writing about the process for her school blog.

Toby said “We have a terrific community and I love it when we all pull together on a project like this. We have spent years building our 3D printing capabilities and it feels great to be able to make a practical contribution from home, even if just a tiny bit. Showing how the printer works was a great home school lesson for my two young daughters and I have enlisted them in cleaning and packing jobs”.

Distribution is taking place from Sheffield. If anyone needs front-line Face Shield supplies then please fill in the form at where you can make a request and also find out more about The Big Print and also donate to the campaign or volunteer to help in other ways.

About Norwich Hackspace Norwich Hackspace is a community of people who enjoy making and recreating things, inventing, investigating, collaborating and generally tinkering. There are approximately 60 members who normally meet weekly. They have a communal workshop in Muspole Street Norwich with a range of equipment both traditional woodwork and metalwork as well as newer equipment such as a lasercutter and 3D printers, electronics. Members work on individual projects or group projects such as an ongoing plastic recycling project looking at how discarded household plastics can be re-used. The Hackspace is closed during the Covid-19 pandemic but members are in touch through and online Slack membership group, where they can continue to share skills and knowledge and to coordinate help for frontline workers and other vulnerable groups.


For more information, interviews and photos please contact Marion Catlin, 07946 261651 or email her at**

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Posted in Projects, Events, 3d printing, Weekly Blog Posts on Apr 09, 2020


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