An overview of Additive Manufacturing PPE in Covid-19

An overview of Additive Manufacturing PPE in Covid-19

Date: Wednesday 13 May 2020

News An overview of Additive Manufacturing PPE in Covid-19

An Overview of Additive Manufacturing PPE in Covid-19

Across the UK, manufacturers are rising to the challenge of manufacturing Personal Protective Equipment for people on the frontline of the Covid-19 outbreak.

At the National Centre for Additive Manufacturing, we have compiled a list of stories, resources and links from across the UK Additive Manufacturing world surrounding what’s happening with regards to making PPE.


Resources and links included here are provided as an aid only. The designs shared here may not have been approved for use by the NHS or UK government. Similarly, we do not endorse any third party websites which we have linked to on this site. Equipment in third party websites may not have been approved for use by the NHS or UK government. If you are producing PPE with the intention of selling or donating it to healthcare workers, please work with the NHS or its representatives directly regarding acceptance and approval of PPE.

Ways of making visors

We are aware of four main ways of making visors:

• 3D printing
• Laser cutting
• Injection moulding
• Assembly

As the National Centre for Additive Manufacturing, with our expertise being in Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing, we will focus purely on the 3D Printed examples.

However, if you are interested in reading about other technologies, you can find out here the work the MTC is doing in Laser Cutting to produce visors as well as the Intubation Shield collaboration with Rolls Royce

A short overview of 3D Printing Visors

3D printing is possibly the slowest process for making visors, given that individual machines can make tens to hundreds each week and other technologies can produce many more in this time.

However, the lead time before you can start production is low which makes the technology attractive, and lots of machines can still add lots of visors. There have been many major organisations using 3D printing to produce visors for the NHS, or even further afield for health organisations across the world.

Find out more about a few of these examples in the case studies below.

Case studies

Case Study – Jaguar Land Rover with a little help from the MTC

The first case study example of 3D printing to make visors comes from Jaguar Land Rover. Through collaboration with other companies, JLR has set a target of producing 5,000 visors a week for NHS trusts across the country, and is also planning to make the CAD files it uses open source.

The MTC, home to the National Centre for Additive Manufacturing, has been involved with this work, using its Hewlett Packard HP Multi Jet Fusion 4200 printer to print up to 200 visors a week, sending them to Jaguar Land Rover for onward distribution to the NHS.

Case Study – BAE Systems

BAE Systems are scaling up production of their 3D printed face shield to deliver around 10,000 single use visors with a smaller number of re-usable head straps over coming weeks – subject to government approval and in line with industry regulations. BAE are also working with their supply chain to source further face shields, with the entire supply chain, working to its own designs, donating more than 120,000 face shields to help the NHS workers on the frontline.

Case Study - Rolls-Royce

MTC member Rolls-Royce has been putting their 3D printers to work to make hundreds of face masks. This story focuses on the innovation of Rolls-Royce colleagues, who seized the initiative and started making face shields all across the world, with the idea originating from Germany. This is an inspiring story, which shows what really is possible in the circumstances we find ourselves in.

PPE Collection and Distribution

If you are looking to donate PPE to the NHS, you can do so through the National Equipment Appeal Database. has been designed to coordinate the collection of civilian held PPE and distribute those items to frontline staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are wanting to tool up for high volume manufacture of PPE (as opposed to manufacture in the home), central government have generated this guidance and you can register your interest with central government here: Some regional authorities are working to facilitate the procurement, supply and distribution of PPE in their region.

Two examples are listed below.

Liverpool City Region 

West Midlands Combined Authority 

Useful resources

3DCrowd UK

Through a website called 3DCrowd UK, more than 6000 volunteer 3D printer owners across the UK have joined forces to address the lack of PPE by printing face shields themselves. The group is aiming to produce an initial 80,000 face shields with 39,000 dispatched by Easter weekend to 90 NHS Trusts across the UK. They have received over 1500 separate orders for over 500,000 face shields. Visit their website at

UK National 3D Printing Society

The UK National 3D Printing Society has made a CAD geometry available and are working to get the design approved for use in hospitals across the UK. People can also sign up to be a supplier of PPE on their website. Visit their website at: