Car companies making personal protective equipment for the NHS

From designing new protective gear to sorting the logistics of getting it to frontline staff, the UK car industry is at the forefront of providing personal protective equipment (PPE)...

Coronavirus story

Car companies are among the many businesses and individuals who are helping to provide much-needed PPE for NHS and social care staff. 

Aston Martin is producing clothing and visors for the NHS. It's also working with Multimatic at the Manufacturing Technology Centre to refine and produce a new protection box called the intubation shield. The Perspex box goes over a patient’s upper body during medical procedures to protect medical staff while they use portals in the box to gain access to the patient.

After being tested in three hospitals, the shield has been refined and is being produced in two versions: single-piece units that can be stacked together when not in use and flat pack versions that are less bulky so easier to deliver to hospitals for assembling on site. 

State-of-the-art cutting machines at Aston Martin’s Gaydon workshops are being used to cut out the silicone components for each box; the machines are normally used to cut out intricate leather shapes for sports car interiors.  

Making visors

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has repurposed its Advanced Product Creation Centre in Gaydon to make more comfortable visors for doctors and nurses after images emerged of medical staff showing the bruises and injuries caused by wearing masks during shifts. The reusable visors were designed in less than a week and are produced using 3D printing technology that is usually used for car component design. 

Coronavirus story

McLaren F1 has also developed a respirator prototype to protect frontline NHS staff. The personal respirator, which consists of a fabric hood connected to an air filter and a small portable air supply, could soon be used in UK hospitals by those caring for patients on coronavirus wards. The device was developed in partnership with University of Southampton medical staff.  

Ford is also ramping up efforts to provide personal protective equipment, making prototype face shields at its research and development facility in Dunton, Essex.

And a team of volunteers at Nissan’s Sunderland factory have created a parts processing line in the final assembly area to sort thousands of individual visor parts and pack them in sets of 125 for shipping to the NHS.

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The project was inspired by brothers Anthony and Chris Grilli, engineers at Nissan’s Technical Centre in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, who have been using their own 3D printers to make visor parts at home. 

The Sunderland team have taken delivery of hundreds of boxes of home-printed visor parts from the Grilli brothers and other volunteers across the country. They intend to be able to distribute up to 100,000 visor sets a week to front line workers. 

Many UK car makers have also donated protective equipment to the NHS, including BMW, JLR and Ford.