Two innovative companies based in Inverness have joined forces to meet the current urgent need for PPE. 4c Engineering and Aseptium are neighbours in HIE’s Solasta House facility on the Inverness Campus who contacted the local hospital to see if their combined design and rapid manufacturing capabilities could be used to tackle a range of key challenges. Their offer to produce face shields was take up by the ICU team at Raigmore. This started Project Corran (taken from the Gaelic for crescent, the shape of the face shield when viewed from above).

Working to a clear brief, the team designed the simplest method of providing face protection that would be robust, secure, comfortable and could be rapidly manufactured in volume.

Part way through the design process, the supply chain challenge increased due to national lockdown which severely curtailed material availability, however led by the Inverness Chamber of Commerce, the business community rallied and went to extra lengths in providing materials.

After sourcing materials and refining the design throughout the week, a meeting was held on Friday 27th March where the first prototype was presented to Raigmore ICU and Infection Control staff – they were happy with it exactly as it was, and gave the green light for 1,000 units

Under the organised leadership of 4c’s Jenny Allen, the Project Corran team worked right through the weekend in shifts of staff and volunteers, and the first 200 face shields were delivered to Raigmore on Monday 30th March.

The Corran design is simple, and unlike alternatives does not require 3D printing – it is made of four commonly available components. The design is being made freely available and can be found on this link https://bit.ly/33YS9Ju with full manufacture guidance. The only requests are that design credit is given, modified designs have an equally open license and that manufacture is non-profit. Wider adoption is already underway; Lochgilphead-based Midton Engineering have taken the design, had it approved by hospitals in Oban and Mid-Argyll and are now moving into manufacture.

Commenting on the project, Peter MacDonald, Director of 4c Engineering said:

The end result of this engineering, procurement and manufacturing challenge is a simple and efficient design, however this is the result of considerable applied innovation to mitigate the supply chain constraints.

Although national procurement of PPE has been progressing at pace, we were able to ensure that the ICU in Raigmore, our local hospital, was well provided with the first 1,000 Corran face-shields and as we’ve made it open-source we hope that the lessons we’ve learned can be applied by makers across the country and beyond.

Dr Liz Cameron OBE, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:

“We are extremely proud of the work that the members within our Network are doing during this crisis. It’s great to see businesses like 4C Engineering and Asepium continue to show initiative and innovation throughout these challenging times – it’s these acts of kindness and selflessness which give the business and wider community hope.”

Stewart Nicol, Chief Executive of Inverness Chamber of Commerce added:

I congratulate Chamber members 4c Engineering and their partners on an outstanding and remarkable achievement. It has been great to work with them to help source materials and local suppliers. The delivery of a substantial quantity of this vital equipment to help NHS Highland deal with the challenge of COVID-19 in such a short timescale is outstanding. To make their design ‘open source’ is a credit to everyone at 4c Engineering and it is fantastic to see innovative Highland businesses leading the way.“

Thanks to the following companies and organisations:

Supplies & Materials: Dunelm Mill, James Dow, Highland Office Equipment, Porex Technologies Ltd

Volunteers & Advice: HIE, SMAS, LifeScan, Glenmore Lodge, Inverness Chamber of Commerce, Varrich Engineering