Producing PPE with Director of Science and STEM, Sue Buxton

Over the last few weeks since School closed to pupils on 20 March, Mrs Sue Buxton, Director of Science and STEM, has coordinated the collection and production of a large amount of PPE (personal protective equipment) for NHS staff at local hospitals. Safety goggles and face masks were sent to Frimley Park Hospital in late March. In response to further appeals from local front line workers, Sue decided to design and manufacture medical visors.

Using a template from the Design and Technology Association (DATA) website, a prototype visor was created, which was approved by the Wycombe General Hospital. ‘The headband is polypropylene and the visor is Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)’, commented Sue, ‘the original prototype took a couple of hours to develop. It took time to develop the technique due to problems with the material being scorched in the laser cutter. We made adjustments to the settings, and made a rig to put underneath the material to raise the polypropylene sheet higher. We just kept trying different settings and arrangements until it cut properly but didn’t burn!’

The department’s fantastic efforts have ensured that staff across Frimley Park, Wycombe General Hospital and Stoke Mandeville Hospital have received the protection they require to continue to go above and beyond for the public. Sue estimates that ‘200 pairs of goggles, 150 lab coats, 6 prototype face masks and an initial batch of 30 face masks’ have been donated across the local area.

Their selfless actions haven’t gone unnoticed, with Neil Dardis, Chief Executive of Frimley Park Hospital, tweeting ‘Thank you to everyone @wycombeabbey for donating goggles and for your support for our teams @FrimleyHealth – we are really grateful for your support – thank you’.

Well done to Sue and staff in the Science and DT Departments for their proactive approach to helping the local community. Sue adds that they ‘are currently working on stepping up production and cutting larger numbers of headbands simultaneously on the laser cutter – the actual clear visor part is cut using a guillotine and hand finished with scissors. We are planning to ask for help from other people at home with the final assembly stage once we have the production rates sorted.’

Word of the visors has spread and we are delighted to be talking with Marie Curie about producing PPE for their nurses.

If you would like to get involved, or would like to share your comments/stories with us, please contact communications@wycombeabbey.com.