Cumbria

Coronavirus: Barrow BAE makes isolation bed curtain hooks

Image showing 3D printed face shield parts Image copyright BAE Systems
Image caption BAE is making curtain hooks and face visors for the NHS

Workers who normally make submarines are producing curtain hooks and face shields for the NHS because of the coronavirus pandemic.

BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, has made 860 specialist hooks for isolation cubicles in hospitals run by University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust.

It has also supplied the trust with thousands of face shields.

BAE head of engineering Michael Fraser said the team had "responded rapidly".

"Some technologists have even used their own home 3D printers of a suitable specification to contribute to the production at their home addresses," he said.

Staff had responded to a plea on social media from the trust's head of resilience, Stuart Hosking-Durn, to find a specific part.

The hook appeared "low-tech" but had to be made to fit a certain type of rail, Mr Fraser said.

"To be able to give them something that was of such practical use even though it's such a minor contribution to the amazing efforts that they're making, everybody felt really great about it," he said.

Although the company normally makes significantly larger hardware "we're used to solving problems and we're used to coming up with solutions so it's not a million miles away", he said.

Image copyright BAE Systems
Image caption The face shields are made in parts and assembled

The first batch of curtain hooks was prototyped and produced within two days, the company said.

Barrow staff had also manufactured a visor in less than 24 hours using a design produced by the company's Air division in Samlesbury, which normally makes components for combat aircraft, it said.

More than 45,000 had been delivered and, with increased production and sourcing from suppliers, the firm said it planned to deliver around 120,000 to the NHS this month.

All seven of its industrial-scale 3D printers are currently being used to make face shields.

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