GTMA members and companies in the precision engineering sectors in Northern Ireland repositioned their operations to allow them to manufacture vital medical equipment in the fight against the Covid-19 virus.
The collective of businesses began working together to design, test and produce emergency two-piece face shields.
By early April, from a drawing-board idea, the alliance began churning out the first of 300,000 face shields that can be used as personal protective equipment (PPE) for front line NHS medical staff across the UK and Ireland.
Adam Murphy, co-founder of Co Down baby products supplier Shnuggle, recognised his company had spare research and development capacity and took the lead in getting together a conglomerate of businesses that was producing the equipment at zero cost to the health service.
He began a crowd-funding campaign at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/facevisors to raise £50,000 to cover some of the costs.
Metal toolmaker Crossen Engineering at Crossnacreevy and Lisburn-based Ad- Vance Engineering, both GTMA suppliers, worked with local designers and injection moulding partners to produce a tool for moulding a quick-assembly face mask.
Brett Martin in Newtownabbey, a global player supplying specialist plastic products for the construction, fabrication, print and display sectors, supplied the acetate/PET for
the front shield, and Denroy Plastics in Bangor pulled the whole product together.
Adam Murphy said as production was about to begin: “It’s remarkable how this has come together. Our emergency workers are keeping us alive right now, but they can only do that if they stay healthy. They need proper protective equipment. Face masks are essential, but must be used with a full face visor, and right now there are not enough of them.”
Around 40 companies in Northern Ireland are understood to have offered to help make more protective clothing for healthcare workers.