A group of volunteers have given up their time and equipment to produce more than 20,000 face shields for health workers as part of an initiative started by engineering enthusiasts.

The Shield Force project in Edinburgh has been designing and making personal protective equipment (PPE) to donate to hospitals during the coronavirus crisis.

What started with a handful of product design professionals using their 3D printers to help fight Covid-19 has led to a pop-up factory with more than 200 people helping out.

Based at Summerhall, they have raised more than £33,000 to help produce the kit, with help from University of Edinburgh students, academics and other volunteers.

Coronavirus – Tue Apr 28, 2020
Shield Force is based at Summerhall in Edinburgh (Jane Barlow/PA)

Costa Talalaev said NHS staff had been grateful to receive their equipment.

He told the PA news agency: “We thought about what we could realistically do – ventilators were too complex to produce.

“We came up with the idea of face shields.”

Mr Talalaev is the director of a prototyping company called Maker-Bee and he was able to repurpose some of his 3D printers to produce the face shields.

He said interest in the project grew quickly: “In the first week we had about five people, then we went to 15 people, two weeks later we had 45 people or so, with 15 people essentially working full time.

“Now we have about 200 contributors overall and we’re looking into making new things.”

More than 1,000 face shields are now being produced each day while the total number of deliveries has passed 22,000.

They now plan to create other items of PPE, including a gown for medics to use.

Mr Talalaev has designed a hook which can be used for opening doors, connected to a bottle of disinfectant so it can be cleaned easily.

Designs for the face shields were refined over time as Shield Force received feedback from medics.

He said: “One of the most important things for the face shields is that they have to be light. Doctors at the time had reusable face shields that were very heavy duty.

“They were so heavy – they said they much preferred the lighter design that we produced.”

Their products will soon be distributed to people outside the health service who deal with large numbers of people, such as shop workers.

They are continuing to raise money for the project through a crowdfunding page, while those interested in volunteering can find out more on Shield Force’s website www.edinburghems.com.