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Retired mechanical design engineer supports local keyworkers with free 3D printed visors

James and Rachel Gaw (Ellen Price Photography)

James Gaw from Workington, has been making over 100 PPE visors a week from his home in High Harrington and giving them to local keyworkers for free!

James, previously a mechanical designer, became interested in 3D printing whilst planning for his retirement. He purchased his first PRUSA i3 printer in 2018 and was instantly hooked! James now owns two hand-built 3D printers which he operates from his workshop at home in Workington.

During lockdown it was his daughter, Rachel, who owns adventure inspired apparel business Go Your Own Way, who signposted him to a social media campaign calling on anyone with access to 3D printing equipment to could help the NHS and Keyworkers by printing PPE face visors.

Within 24 hours James had sourced a printable file and was in production. However, he was adamant that he was going to provide the visors for free. He did not want cash donations, gifts or widespread praise, he wanted to self-fund the project, with the condition that local keyworkers were his priority.

One of the 3D printed visors (Ellen Price Photography)

James said: “Rachel encouraged me to get involved after seeing a social media post saying keyworkers and the NHS were crying out for anyone with access to 3D printing equipment to get involved with printing PPE face visors. However, the company co-ordinating this was based down south.

“I was adamant if I was going to do this, I wanted the visors to go to people in my local community. I set up printing the items from my workshop and with a little help from Rachel and social media I was up and running. Within the last two weeks, I have produced and distributed over 200 visors to Care Workers, Nurses, Pharmacies and Doctors Surgeries in West Cumbria. I’ve even had enquiries from The RVI in Newcastle.”

A key factor in James’ production is that he is making all the visors for free. Self-funding the whole project.

“I don’t want any money for the visors, this is my way of giving back and helping our local heroes.”

A little bump in the road came after James ran low on acetate, with demand being high he was struggling to source sheets that could be delivered locally.

“Rachel posted a plea for donations from anyone with any spare acetate on social media and the floodgates opened! I’ve received so many lovely donations from people who were adamant they wanted to help. People have left things on my doorstep, and I’ve even had acetate delivered to me through the post. I’ve got loads now which means I can print so many more visors. I am so grateful for everyone’s generosity and kindness.”

It goes without saying that James and Rachel make a great team. They have now enlisted other friends to join the cause. Friend of over 50 years, Lynn Hughes, of Workington, is knitting PPE mask extenders that alleviate the pressure on the wearer’s ears. Lynn wanted to join James and Rachel in their quest to help as many local key workers as possible. Her mask extenders are now distributed alongside the visors.

James will continue to make the visors for as long as people need them. He is encouraging people to contact him directly on Facebook, however, now has had to put a limit on the number of visors per collection. Visors must be collected within 24 hours from him otherwise they will be re-assigned to someone else.

“I’m a one-man-band with two 3D printers, I can only make so many per day as I still need time for a brew or two and my lunch! I’ve met so many wonderful people during this horrible time, and I’m so pleased I’ve been able to help in my own little way.”

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