Managing director Jon Tolley’s wife is a critical care practitioner at an NHS intensive care unit, and found herself without the necessary PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) earlier this week.
Tolley told Printweek: “She had a shift on Tuesday and rang me distraught because they had no PPE, no visors at all, and they are treating Covid-19 positive patients without protection. She asked if we could help.”
Nottinghamshire-based Prime Group looked at how it could use its existing expertise in lasercutting and plastics to come up with a solution.
“We picked up a used, cleaned visor, dissembled it and produced our first prototype the next day,” Tolley explained.
“We delivered 100 yesterday afternoon for staff to trial – they love them and are so grateful.”
Prime is currently working on an improved, ‘version 2’ prototype.
The firm has also shared the design and material specification with Pixart, the Cimpress-owned Italian print specialist, so that Pixart can make the visors for health workers in Italy.
Italy is second only to China with the number of reported Covid-19 infections, with 69,176 cases according to the World Health Organization.
The UK government has been under fire this week for not ensuring that adequate supplies of PPE items were available for NHS and care workers.
“We’ve been contacted by a number of NHS trusts and we’re asking anyone with similar problems to get in touch,” Tolley added.
“Let’s get this out there and do what we can. We’re going to set up an online shop – frontline workers are obviously taking priority at the moment.”
He said the business was trying to make the visors as low cost as possible, and described the support from the firm’s suppliers as “incredible”.
“It’s heart-warming it really is,” Tolley added.
Prime can make thousands of visors a day at present and is hoping to ramp that up to 10,000.
The Blidworth-based firm specialises in digital printing and personalised marketing services under normal circumstances. It employs 48 staff and has sales of £5.25m.