Makerversity innovation community launch PPE micro-manufacturing hub for NHS workers fighting Covid-19

By Charlotte Gilks

Makerversity’s community are some of the world’s most pioneering creators and innovators.

Energised by the acute need of NHS staff and frontline key workers exposed to Covid-19, the community is leading a micro-manufacturing effort out of its space at Somerset House, to provide desperately needed Personal Protective Equipment

Makerversity is collaborating with umbrella organisation SHIELD to launch SHIELD’s first new 3D printing facility at Somerset House, with support from Farnell. SHIELD partner organisations will be developing new designs for sustainable masks and visors in addition to other critical PPE on a mass scale. As supplies of life-saving PPE run critically low, we need to find a way to make it ourselves. So SHIELD was formed – a collaboration of industry leaders united to create innovative solutions to meet the PPE demand. The Makerversity 3D printing hub is now live, starting to create the supply we desperately need.

Currently for every patient being treated in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), between 30-40 sets of PPE are needed, per day. That means, over the projected course of the COVID-19 pandemic, one ICU could use up to 9.2 million sets of PPE to protect their staff from the virus. SHIELD, emerging two weeks ago as a best-practice collaboration of independent PPE campaigns, came together to build supply streams in response to this need. Developing new designs for sustainable masks and visors in addition to other critical PPE on a mass scale, SHIELD’s aim is to support any coordinated national endeavour under one single mission to protect frontline staff in the fight against COVID-19.

Makerversity efforts have been led by Makerversity member Nate Petre, who recently completed a PhD at the Dyson School of Design Engineering at Imperial College, where he focussed on Disruptive Distributed Manufacturing with biofabrication. Together with Nate, an incredible group of talented Makerversity members, specialists in design engineering, speculative design, product design, textile and fashion design, service design and many more disciplines, passionately want to support those working at the forefront to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Nate said:

“Thousands of practical people around the world, enabled by digital tools, platforms to collaborate and low-cost desktop prototyping and manufacturing have volunteered to help fight the spread of Covid-19. Following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, I felt like Makerversity, a space filled with tools and the members’ enormous creativity could help the government create useful solutions to the growing crisis. I approached Makerversity and suggested that we could team up to solve some of the less critical issues that the health services face. I thought that my PhD hypothesis on disruptive distributed manufacturing wouldn’t become apparent or useful for another five or six years. I was wrong. Between African villages with 3D printers to one of the most iconic buildings in London with our SHIELD 3D printing hub at Somerset House, it’s looking like groups like Makerversity stand to redefine how using a distributed approach we can work together.”

Copyright Nate Petre

Copyright Nate Petre

The Makerversity hub is designed to generate 1,700 visors per day from 3D printers, funded by non-profit organisation HEROES whose ‘Help Them Help Us’ initiative supports the physical, mental and day-to-day needs of NHS staff across the nation. HEROES Co-founder Dr Dominic Pimenta says:

“As we try to keep up with the effect of the virus on the UK, supplies are in demand and there is a need for sustainable solutions. Being an ICU doctor myself I am in a position to test our products on the ground giving us the opportunity to be agile and evolve with the virus each day. For Heroes, it was a no-brainer to be involved as supporting the NHS frontline with immediacy and impact is why we exist”. View the SHIELD video featuring Dominic calling for collaborators and donations here;

Adam Leedham, Makerversity’s Workshop Manager and micro-manufacturing expert added:

“We have a unique community of designers/engineers/makers who are perfectly placed to react in an agile way to making needs from basic PPE to ventilator components. Our job as Makerversity is to organise and facilitate our dynamic and ambitious members ability to respond to requests from the medical community. We’re currently focusing on immediate urgent requests for face guards, gowns and full body suits and will be monitoring any further need whilst preparing for more in depth making processes and design challenges.”

Over time, SHIELD plans to open additional hubs across the UK. We’re calling on all designers, printers, suppliers and donors to join our effort and help get equipment into the helping hands that really need it. Donate here at SHIELD’S JustGiving page. Request PPE here at the National Equipment Appeal Database.

Visit to find out more about collaborating or donating. #SHIELD #HelpThemHelpUs #NHS #Covid19

With thanks to;

NHS Hero Support


Med Supply Drive UK

Women in 3D Printing / Kadine James


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Charlotte Gilks
Posted By Charlotte Gilks