Macclesfield based manufacturers, Opus Technical, are using their skills to produce facemasks for NHS workers.
The Blackwell family which owns and runs Opus Technical is running an out of hours operation from their garden shed and have already made nearly 2000 masks.
The idea to start production of PPE came from Technical Director, John Blackwell, whose family have been manufacturers of chemical process equipment since the 1950s.
Starting at 5am, John goes down to his shed to clean, service and reset three 3D printers which can then make face visors throughout the day. John’s children, all former or current King’s School pupils Harry, Tom, Tori and Flossie, then assemble the products during the day, adding head bands and rubber seals for comfort.
Two other King’s School pupils Ben McIlveen and Bryn Barker, whom John mentored as part of the school’s Engineering Education Scheme (EES), have also made some 2000 masks for GP practices and care homes in and around the High Peak and for The Christie in Manchester. John has worked with King’s for the last four years to mentor A Level science students who seek to find novel solutions to real-life engineering problems.
John Blackwell said:
We have taken the design from specifications off the Internet and added our own modifications to maximise comfort and protection.
“We have two Intensive Care doctors in our extended family and two nurses also working on Covid-19 in wards in Manchester so we know only too well about their needs and the needs of all NHS and social care workers on the front line. As a family we have a lot of engineering expertise and know that to run this sort of operation you need to clean, service and renew machinery.
“We have been going for nearly two weeks solid and the three printers we bought to do this are wearing down and need constant supervision.”
Macclesfield manufacturers, Opus Technical, is still trading with all staff except Sales and Marketing Director Bill Blackwell, working from home on the design phase of a major order.
When John returns from work at 6pm, the first thing he does is check the operation in his shed and set it up to run throughout the night, while brother Bill picks up finished head bands so he, his wife Hilary and daughter Gabrielle can assemble them at their home as well.
Opus bought the additional 3D printers specifically for their voluntary work for the NHS and are supplying all goods free of charge to GP practices and carehomes in and around Macclesfield, to The Christie and to the hospitals where their family members work. Via social media and thanks to friends and fellow King’s parents they are receiving donations to help buy the materials and parts and have set up a funding site to help with the costs.
We are in this for the long haul and intend to keep the operation going for as long as the crisis continues.”