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AM in the time of COVID-19Mass Production

UK’s Photocentric to 3D print millions of PPE units for NHS

Photocentric, a UK-based specialist in photopolymer resin 3D printing , has penned a deal with the UK Government to supply over 7.6 million 3D printed protective face shields to health and care staff in the National Health Service (NHS). The company will utilize its patented LCD Screen 3D printing technology to mass produce the PPE, at a rate of millions of units per month. The company also says it has plans to produce up to 500,000 parts a day, if needed.

Photocentric delivered the first 3D printed face shields to frontline healthcare workers on May 30th, and the group is scaling up production at its Peterborough warehouse, where over 30 large-format 3D printers are running 24/7. The print farm is expected to grow to over 100 3D printers in the next few months. To accommodate the influx of 3D printers and emergency production, Photocentric has also added 60 new staff members to its team.

Photocentric PPE UK
Photocentric’s Magna Print Farm

“I am proud of the ingenuity and hard work demonstrated by the whole team at Photocentric,” said Paul Holt, Managing Director and Founder of Photocentric. “We have shown that it is possible to use our patented 3D printing technology to very rapidly design and make millions of units of an entirely new product. This home-grown, patented technology demonstrates that the UK can reduce dependence on overseas production and manufacture parts locally, making the quantity needed, when they are needed, at a competitive price.”

Photocentric realized it had a role to play in the production of PPE in March 2020, as soon as lockdown measures were announced in the UK and COVID-19 numbers started to rise at alarming rates. The company says it did not take long before it received orders from local hospitals (as well as healthcare centers based farther away). To meet this demand, Photocentric’s team quickly came up with a shield design which was prototyped within a day. At once, its 3D printing systems began to produce thousands of shield parts per day.

The company is not only helping to protect healthcare workers with PPE in this emergency, it has also demonstrated the viability of its technology for mass production. The company’s technology is a resin-based process that uses LCD screens to quickly expose large areas of resin to light, which hardens them. The company currently offers its LCD Screen technology in a desktop format, ideal for dentistry, jewelry making or industrial production, and two large formats, the LC Magna and the LC Maximus. The company’s print farm consists of several LC Magna systems, which have a build volume of 20.1 x 11 x 13.8 inches and a print rate of 0.52 inches per hour.

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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