Technology that we are used to seeing every day in libraries and shopping centres has been turned to help in the fight against coronavirus by one Kilkenny company.
Face shields are an essential part of the protective equipment being used by healthcare staff and now the local company is producing them, much to the relief of care facilities.
Thomastown based Surfbox have been providing pay-as-you-go internet printing for libraries, hotel lobbies and in shopping centres, for the last 17 years.
Parallel to that Surfbox has been providing 3D printers in public libraries, bringing the machines and technical support to places like Loughboy library in Kilkenny. They have 3D printers in 20 locations across Dublin, Kildare and Limerick.
With the arrival of the coronavirus in Ireland Surfbox looked to see if there was something they could do to help - and there was.
Tom Marry, who established the company in 2004, explained that at the start of the lockdown the normal business of Surfbox ground to a halt. “We looked to see if there was something we could do to help. We saw the production of face shields was something we could do that was positive and proactive.”
Surfbox had three 3D printers at the Thomastown headquarters but, Tom said, that wasn’t enough. They came up with the idea to ask the libraries to get involved. Initially they thought the libraries could do the printing themselves, but after the lockdown and closure of the libraries the company asked the libraries to loan back the 3D printers they were using to them.
There are now 25 3D printers working away in Thomastown, printing up to 150 face visors every day.
The printers produce the headband that goes around the top of the head, to secure the visor. Surfbox have stocks of comfortable elastic that holds the headband on, and they bought in E4 transparent sheets, which have good clarity, for the front of the visors.The sheets clip on to the headband.
There are two different designs, one that Surfbox drew up and another from the UK that can be produced for the HSE.
Already there have been a lot of enquiries about the visors from different areas like GPs’ surgeries and hospitals.
Tom says they are doing this work on a not-for-profit basis and only ask for a donation towards the costs of production. Each visor costs about €3 to produce. Batches of the visors are being sent out as soon as possible when ordered.
There has been a lot of gratitude shown to the company for taking on this production. There is a continual demand for the visors.
“This will end and we will go back to our normal business. We’re doing this to try and help,” Tom said.
He was glad to add that Surfbox haven’t had to let any of their staff go. This is important to the company to be able to keep on their good, loyal employees.
Surfbox are based in the Thomastown Business Park email firstname.lastname@example.org.