Revealed: Local school utilises its talent to deliver high quality PPE gear during crisis

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Tipperary

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On Friday 27th March the Principal of the High School received an email from a parent of a student to inform her that her brother Fergus Somers, a former student of the High School was currently working with Benchspace in Cork to produce PPE’s for Health care workers.

She had heard from her son that the school had recently invested in a 3d printer and laser cutter for the Technology Department and wondered if the High School would be interested in helping in the fight against Covid 19.

The Principal immediately contacted Chris Allen (Head of Technology- High School) and by Saturday morning he had been in contact with Bench space and began production.

A week later the production team of Chris Allen, Sean Parkinson & Brian Phelan produced 1,500 shields and delivered them to a variety of healthcare settings in the Clonmel area by other staff of the school.

The school is very appreciative of the support given to the project by Boston Scientific

This process has only been possible due to the purchase of both the 3d printer and Laser cutter prior to christmas. A decision the Board of Management approved for the betterment of the High School students.

The 3d printing process works by useing a roll of plastic filament that is fed into a heated extruder which has been programmed to the design of the headband part of face shields. Its a relatively slow process taking 1hr 24mins to produce each headband.

“As a department we felt that there was surely a faster way to produce such pieces. Following some research we sourced a laser cutter file designed by Georgia Tech in America and on Tuesday 31st, Brian and Sean started running test pieces. We found that the designed worked really well and best of all the laser cutter could produce 40 units per hour” said Karen Steenson.

A 3mm sheet of Acrylic is placed flat on the laser bed and an overhead laser beam cuts to the required profile from the sheet. It can cut 8 profiles in 9mins.

The visor is made from A4 Acetate sheets which Sean sourced from Cashel office supplies. “We used up all stock in school by Thursday having produced 250 units and in conjunction with other staff members we contacted and then delieverd units to Clonmel hospital, local nursing homes and health care facilities. There was a huge sense of gratitude from the people in charge of these facilities” said the school principal.

Tony Murray a former student and currently working in the Ambulance service contacted the school when he heard what the school were doing requesting some units so as to test them out.

The feed back he provided has confirmed the school had a very good product that will provide an extra layer of personal protection for our front line workers during these challenging times.

“We purchased new stock and now had the material to make 800 more units of which 100 were produced on Saturday 4th April.

"Staff members delivered these to three nursing homes.The school would like to thank Boston Scientific for the role they played in enabling the school to carry out this project."