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Inovus Medical scales up manufacturing to help in fight against COVID-19 Back to News Index

08 Apr 2020
  • Business
Inovus Medical’s normal day to day involves the design and manufacture of simulators for teaching doctors and surgeons how to safely perform tasks such as laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic began to grip the UK throughout March, the multi award winning, St Helens based company realised they were in a unique position to help the fight against the virus on multiple fronts.

Inovus Medical CEO, Dr Elliot Street said “The various products needed by front line healthcare staff in the fight against the pandemic have been well publicised over the last few weeks with two items (Ventilators and PPE) becoming overnight household words. Having seen the overwhelming demand for these items and knowing the unique position we as a company are in to design and manufacture both, we took the decision to convert our manufacturing lines to aid in the production of ventilators and face visors in the hope that we can do our bit in the fight against COVID-19.”

The company’s actions are designed to help protect the lives of key workers in the NHS and social care environments and assist in the care of patients across the UK. This has resulted in two major projects being taken on by Inovus.

Project Pitlane

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A member of the Inovus manufacturing team breaking out the individual components of the latest 3D print run.

A consortium of seven F1 teams supported by leading medical device manufacturers have responded to the government’s challenge to design and manufacture ventilators and other breathing aids to help in the fight against COVID-19.

Having utilised the engineering might of these motor sports giants to design the products, the project reached a stage of needing component parts manufactured in high volume. With these sorts of parts usually having turnaround times of months, and with an immediate demand for the lifesaving equipment, the consortium turned to a select group of manufacturing firms with the skills and equipment to enable large scale manufacturing with lightning fast turnaround.

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Completed ventilator parts ready for shipping.

The Inovus Medical design and engineering team were called upon to utilise their expertise and the company’s additive manufacturing capabilities to assist in the production of these parts. The company has since been using its production level SLS 3D printer (ProX® SLS 6100 from 3D Systems) to manufacture components for the ventilators with the first parts being delivered to the consortium in under a week from receiving the call to help.

Face visors to protect frontline staff

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The FM.03 face visor by Inovus Medical, already in use across the NHS and Social care systems.

Protecting front line care givers is critical to helping the fight against COVID-19 and, in response to repeated requests from existing customers to help with this protection, the design team at Inovus have conceptualised and designed an Emergency Face Visor to help meet this demand. The face visor utilises the same production level 3D printing technology as that used for the ventilator parts to enable large scale manufacturing and supply of the visors.

Within a week of the first request for face visors the Inovus Medical team designed and tested the product, built technical files and other documentation to be in line with the necessary EU directives governing such products and installed a new manufacturing and assembly line in their St Helens based factory. Demand for the visors has been overwhelming with thousands of visors already delivered to front line care givers across the UK.

Inovus CTO, Jordan Van Flute said, ”We were aware of a number of existing designs from companies manufacturing face shields using 3D printing and we applaud each and every one of them for this and urge them to continue producing these as fast as they can. Knowing the scale of demand ahead of us, we were however, worried that the various designs utilising 3D printing would not be able to keep pace with the huge volumes of visors that would be required over the coming months. Our team has proven time and again that taking a contrarian approach to design can allow us to utilise 3D printing for high volume manufacturing. Having applied this approach to the visor design we have been able to take a product that could be manufactured in the hundreds of units per day and increased our capacity to thousands per day. This will allow us to help protect even more frontline workers and continue doing our bit in the fight against COVID-19.”

Demand has been so high for the visors that the company has had to upscale its manufacturing workforce by 100% to help meet the need. The team are now producing at a rate of 3,000 – 5,000 visors per day and are currently helping to support a number of NHS trusts and social care services across the UK with their PPE needs.

Inovus Chair, Glenn Cooper said, “It is great knowing that we are able to help protect thousands of healthcare workers while at the same time creating jobs during a difficult time for many in the workforce. Safety of our staff and customers is key and as such we are making every effort to ensure the facility is run in line with the government advice on distancing while we remain open to perform these critical functions.”

There is plenty of capacity to help further NHS trusts and care organisations so please do get in touch if you require face visors.

For a quick response please email: Info@inovus.org

For further information on any of the items mentioned above please contact Helen.hanson@inovus.org
Thank you for your enquiry. We will get back to you as soon as possible.

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