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3D keeps bread coming

Breadcraft production line team with the new face shields. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

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3D-printed face shields made in Masterton have kept essential workers at Breadcraft Wairarapa Ltd doing the business.

The two-metre social distancing policy was not completely achievable on the food production line, so Breadcraft’s Future Food manager John Hart came up with a solution.

“I’d seen quite a few open source designs out on the internet as different countries responded to shortages of PPE, so it was an easy decision to get the Fab Lab involved,” Hart, who is a co-founder of the educational charity said.

“The design we chose had already been refined and tested with health authorities in Europe.”

A 3D printer at Fab Lab has been making PPE for Breadcraft.

Hart began printing the shields at his home.

The 3D computerised printer is about the size of a microwave oven. The clear plastic rolls from the back of the machine and squirts out layer by layer at the other end in the pattern required, and then solidifies to the programmed shape. The shield covers the whole face and a face mask can be worn underneath if wanted.

The shields mean all staff on the production line can maintain their ‘bubble’ while producing bread and wraps. Not all staff work in close proximity but around 30 people have to.

The shields are similar to PPE [personal protective equipment] worn by frontline health staff. They weigh less than 50 grams each and are adjustable.

The first 10 face shields have been in use and another 20 will be ready for next week’s covid-19, Level 3 lockdown adjustment.

The thin, clear plastic face shields were designed in the Czech Republic and are printed at the Fab Lab.

Kirsten Browne and Hart set up the lab five years ago to teach ‘design-thinking’ to students and for local businesses to prototype ideas and solutions quickly.

During Level 4 the factory operated four ‘people bubbles’ keeping each of the teams separate so that the risk to personal health was reduced.

Around 70 employees were able to travel between work and home maintaining their bubble with social distancing at work.

But throughout the Level 4 lockdown 16 vital staff lived at the Copthorne Solway in a strict lockdown. They all went home to their families at the weekend and were “very pleased to be home”, a Breadcraft spokesperson said.

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