Rollem Ltd of Barnsley, specialist manufacturers of innovative, bespoke print finishing solutions for printers around the world has been in business for over 90 years, and unsurprisingly owes its’ long years of success to exploiting technical innovation to drive their continuing supply of highly accurate, flexible, productive systems.

An early adopter of 3D printing, Rollem runs a suite of MakerBot 3D printers from 5th Gen to the latest members of the MakerBot Method family of printers. Normally printing bespoke or low volume or custom parts for customised system modules, recent events have pared Rollems’ normally vibrant working environment back to a skeleton crew focusing on printing facemask parts for the NHS as part of a manufacturing and distribution network to help meet PPE demand during this national pandemic.

The National 3D Printing Society has joined efforts with Medical Supply Drive UK, a non-profit organisation run by volunteer NHS doctors, medical students and individuals who are concerned about the safety of NHS frontline healthcare workers dealing with the COVID-19 crisis without adequate PPE. The aim is to coordinate the supply of non-essential personal protective equipment (PPE) and re-direct them to NHS frontline staff and other healthcare settings.

Rollem have used the current unexpected diversion to their everyday remit, not only to augment their printing capabilities with new printers and expanding materials compatibility, but also – as they always do – whole-heartedly embrace the new challenges as a learning curve whilst being part of a large network of companies and citizens doing all they can to support the effort to keep NHS staff safe while they help those infected beat the virus.

Stuart Murphy, Rollem MD said,

“A week ago, I knew nothing about the National 3D Printing Society, Medical Supply Drive UK or the PPE production initiative, but as soon as I heard about, I knew Rollem had the tools to help. Now we have 4 machines, each machine steadily making 20 visor bands per day, so we expect to be producing 500 mask head bands per week.

All 4 of our printers will be dedicated to supplying the NHS for the foreseeable future, 24 hours per day if we can. If we can get paid for the materials okay, but I am expecting to donate the printer time and materials.

Also, our supply chain has been a big contributor to our gearing up so fast. Daemon3D Print – who first alerted us to the PPE production initiative - has ensured fast delivery of machines and filaments making the 500 units per week instantly doable.”

Simon King, Sales Administrator at Daemon3D Print said, “The face masks require PLA or PETG 3D printing filaments and whilst these are both standard stock items, the sudden demand has given us challenges in ensuring that everyone who has a need is kept in production!

So far, we are aware that several of our customers have signed up to the PPE production programme, our intention is to keep them in production until the crisis has abated”.