07 Jul Jon Cartu Published: Ricoh 3D receives CE approval to produce face shields
Telford-based Ricoh 3D has designed, manufactured and shipped vital face shields to health and care workers since March, both in the UK and overseas.
Now the unique face shield has received CE marking, which verifies that health, safety, and environmental protection standards are met.
For sales on the European market, all products are required to hold a CE mark and undertake several tests to be certified, including an examination of how efficiently the masks filter out bacteria in this case.
They also needed to be breathable, splash-resistant and complete a microbial cleanliness test.
Demand for PPE is expected to be high in the hospitality, beauty, leisure and retail sectors as restrictions ease amid warnings from the British Medical Journal that urgent action is still needed to prevent further loss of life.
Mark Dickin, additive manufacturing & moulding specialist at Ricoh 3D, said: “CE marking a product for sale is standard practice for Ricoh, so we were ready to ensure best practices and compliance. Nevertheless, we are delighted that our face shield has achieved CE approval. It’s an important landmark for any product as it means it meets the requirements of the highly regulated European markets. It opens up huge new possibilities.
“As the country – and indeed the continent – comes out of lockdown, businesses are considering how they can openly safe to limit the risk of infection for their customers. For many customer-facing businesses such as those in the hospitality sector, that means providing staff with adequate PPE.
“Our face shields have been very well received by the health and care workers already using them, due to their enhanced design which offers improved comfort for the wearer. Now we are ready to meet demand as people return to pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers over the coming weeks.
“Our Telford factory is uniquely set up to take a product from concept to prototype to serial production, and that’s exactly what we did here – with the main component 3D-printed and remaining parts sourced and assembled in just 24 hours.”
Thanks to the strength of Ricoh’s supplier network and cross-functional on-site team, the mask design was refined and ready for mass production in less than three weeks to meet long-term demand.
The Ricoh face shield has since been featured on local, national and international news.
Ricoh also welcomed former England footballer Steve Bull to its site to collect hundreds of face shields for NHS staff across the Black Country as part of his own appeal to keep frontline heroes safe.
Orders have been shipped to hospitals in Ricoh’s vicinity, as well as local housing trusts for carers and community workers, and the local council for bus drivers and care workers.
A number of the face shields have also been shipped to Ricoh France to be distributed to local hospitals with desperate shortages.
The masks are being used across the global Ricoh Family Group in operations where people cannot work from home.
Mark added: “We have the capacity to produce thousands of face shields each week so are primed for action.
“It’s an uncertain time for the whole world but we’re proud to be playing our part in the efforts to keep the nation protected. It’s vital that people feel safe when they are returning to their favourite pubs, restaurants and hairdressers from July 4.
“3D printing and its potential to create quality products quickly and cost-effectively has really come into its own. Our message is not to underestimate the power of manufacturing in the UK – hopefully we’ll learn from this and people might well look at the whole industry a little differently from now on.”