Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has started supplying hundreds of protective visors made on its 3D printers to front-line NHS staff.
The manufacturer is adapting kit usually used for making new car parts at its Warwickshire site and is currently producing 250 visors a day.
JLR said NHS staff were consulted about the designs as the firm responded to the government’s call for support.
The company said it hoped to ramp up production to 5,000 a day.
The items are being distributed free of charge to NHS trusts “up and down the country” by JLR volunteers, the spokesperson for the firm added.
The car giant suspended all production at its plants across the UK last month, in response to the spread of coronavirus until at least 20 April.
Ben Wilson, prototype design manager at JLR’s Gaydon site, said one of the ways the firm responded to the national call for personal protection equipment (PPE) was to help with design and printing 3D models and prototypes.
“It’s not something we’re regularly designing and manufacturing,” he said.
“We don’t need to adapt our machinery and the staff are trained to design and make a diverse array of parts so are already very capable.
“But first and foremost, whatever we do needs to be fit for purpose.”
As the visors can be printed “overnight”, they can be reviewed or refined quickly if need be.
After consulting healthcare workers in intensive care Covid-19 wards and seeing what was being made in Europe, Mr Wilson said the firm realised they were “very, very simple designs” that could be made quite easily using the most “functional and durable” material.
“The headband or the cap is 3D printed from bio-compatible nylon and can be cleaned through chemical cleaning.”
“We’re just happy to know that we’re able to do what we can do to make a difference at this time,” he added.