Maresfield engineering student Sam Topping is working with others from his university to supply 3D printed face shields to doctors and hospitals.
Sam, 21, who attended Uckfield College, and Bonners Primary School before that, is responsible for raising the profile of the project being run by Southampton University students.
The request for shields came from a GP concerned about a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment who initially asked if ten could be produced.
Project leader Fergus McKenzie-Wilson made 50 thinking the extras could go to the doctor’s colleagues.
Fergus said: “Once the machinery is set up you can just keep pressing go. I still had resources here so made some more.”
At that point he recruited fellow engineers and others with 3D printers to help him scale up production. A big boost came when a company, Motion Robotics, loaned them six printers.
The team – who meet only via Skype and Google Hangout – set up a GoFundMe page with the aim of raising £3,000 to make 1,000 shields.
Within eight hours they had the money, stretched the target to £6,000 to make 2,000 face shields and are now preparing to stretch it again to £12,000 so they can make 4,000 shields.
The engineers have separate business plans which would enable them to increase their targets further to £35,000 and £50,000 if appropriate.
Fergus joked: “I want make so many that the NHS starts sending them back to us.”
The shields are made to an approved design and each one is quality checked to ensure there are no sharp edges. “We pay someone to do that because it is a horrible job which takes a very long time.”
The equipment is then sent to Dr Hannah Harring, the GP initially asking for help in producing them.
Hannah’s husband John is an investor in a completely separate engineering company set up by Fergus, and the couple’s role now is to find the hot spots in need of the protection and transport them onwards free of charge thanks to donations via the GoFundMe page.
Sam Topping said he was proud to be involved in the project particularly because his mother and stepfather Gail and Gary Fay are recovering from a COVID-19 type illness.
Sam is still at university, unable to go home while they are ill, and is pleased to be doing something to help the NHS at this terrible time.
If you would like to help the engineers produce more face shields please visit their GoFundMe page.