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Technology charity in Moray stepping up to meet virus visor demand

Claire Griffiths, chairwoman of Moray Makerspace. Picture by Jason Hedges.
Claire Griffiths, chairwoman of Moray Makerspace. Picture by Jason Hedges.

A Moray charity that runs educational programmes has turned a collective passion for technology into protecting key workers during the coronavirus lockdown.

Moray Makerspace ordinarily runs sessions to showcase robotics, electronics and soldering as well as a coding club to promote Stem (science, technology, engineering, maths) learning.

However, the group has now turned its compliment of 3D printers towards creating visors to protect staff at risk of contracting Covid-19.

In two weeks 14 members of the charity have produced more than 500 of the masks to distribute to locations across the region.

Health centres, chemists, hospitals and care homes have all benefitted from the drive with one also given to a woman to look after her mother after carers were no longer able to visit.

Depending on the technology being used, each visor takes between 90 minutes and three and a quarter hours to manufacture using the printers.

Chairwoman of Moray Makerspace Claire Griffiths, who also teaches computing in local schools, said the equipment has helped fill a short-term gap until factories can go into production.

She said: “The only way it could be done quicker would be if you were using an injection mould, but it takes time to gear up factories to do that.

“People have asked why we have decided to do it, but why not? We have the technology so it makes sense to help.”

The printers make a plastic headband with an acetate visor protecting the user from potentially breathing in the coronavirus.

Each item costs less than £1 to make with filaments being installed in printers to keep the production line, which has already been in operation for a collective 1,500 hours, going.

More than £1,800 has already been donated to the charity to help fund the materials to meet the need with the group pledging to pass any additional funding to a local NHS-related cause if it is not needed to manufacture visors.

Mrs Griffiths said: “It started off with me approaching the health centres in Elgin to see if they needed them, somebody else approached Forres Health Centre and a chemist there, after that word of mouth has spread and people have been approaching us.”

Highlands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston, who raised a motion in parliament celebrating the group’s efforts, said: “It is so encouraging to see a local charity, supported by local people, making a difference to protect those who are working so hard to protect us all.”

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