Stirling Council’s Libraries Service is using 3D printing technology to produce vital *PPE equipment for NHS staff and other essential workers in the frontline of the COVID-19 battle.
Lauren McCombe, Stirling Council library technician, holding some of the PPE equipment produced by the 3D Printersl's libraries' 3D Printers

More than 100 face masks are now being made each week using the service’s large 3D printers, which are operated by the libraries’ digital team in line with Government social distancing restrictions.

The solid plastic frame of face shields are printed by the machines, with the transparent part added later.

The innovative scheme is part of national crowd printing campaign called The Big Print, who handle the assembly, distribution and ordering of the equipment. A Scottish assembly and distribution centre has been set up by the group in Falkirk.

A fantastic idea

Convener of Stirling Council’s Community Planning and Regeneration Committee, Cllr Chris Kane said: “Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, are some of the most in demand items on the planet right now and while in normal times our 3D printers are great educational and learning tools available through our library service, it is a fantastic idea to use them in this way to help supply masks to those on the front line of the fight against COVID-19.” 

After staring work as a Stirling Council library technician one week before the full national lockdown got underway, Lauren McCombe, was quickly entrusted with primary responsibility for printing the PPE. 

Intensely rewarding process

She said: “Originally I was a bit overwhelmed at the thought of manufacturing PPE when I had barely even switched on a 3D printer before.

“On top of a brand new job and an unfamiliar workplace, it all felt a bit mad! However, it turns out that throwing yourself into something like this is a great way to learn the ropes and I've had loads of fun doing it.

“It's been an intensely rewarding process, both in terms of learning a new skill and being able to provide vital PPE for frontline workers who really need it.”

Rising to the challenge

Vice Convener, Cllr Maureen Bennison said: “There have been lots of positive stories of Stirling Council staff and services rising to the challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic and this is another example of that.”

“The supply of PPE to frontline workers has been a national issue since this crisis started and anything we can do to contribute to this effort should be applauded. A huge well done to Lauren and all involved.”

Despite the temporary closure of Stirling Council libraries on March 17, in accordance with Government guidelines, the public can still access a number of library services and resources online.

Since March, there has been a significant increase in use of e-books, e-audio books, e-magazines and e-newspapers, and the service has added to its e-book and e-audio collections to cope with the extra demand.

For more information on Stirling Council libraries and how to access their wide variety of free e-services, please visit the Stirling Council website

More information and picture details:

The NHS Inform website is producing regularly updated guidance on COVID-19 and we would recommend this as the best resource for the latest information and advice.

Residents in need of care, essential supplies or support can contact 01786 404040 and have their requirements formally recorded by Stirling Council’s community response teams. You can also fill in our Support for People online form.   

Picture shows Stirling Council Library technician, Lauren McCombe, with some of the PPE equipment produced by the 3D printers.