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Blackman & White cuts through Covid-19 PPE shortage

The company has responded to the national call for urgent PPE by creating a visor that is made from polycarbonate or acetate

7th April 2020

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Essex, UK


© Blackman & White.© Blackman & White.

An Essex-based manufacturer is using its expertise in cutting systems to design and make vital equipment to support frontline staff in the fight against Covid-19. Blackman & White has responded to the national call for urgent PPE by getting its CAD engineers to create a visor that is made from polycarbonate or acetate to make the most of its in-house machine capabilities.

The company is looking to utilise spare capacity in its demo room at its facility on the Street Industrial Estate in Maldon, where Orion and Genesis V machines can use dual motion control, state-of-the-art routers and laser capabilities to produce 300 units every day.

Bosses are now appealing for other businesses to support their efforts by helping to source material that is currently hard to find or not of the right quality, assistance with product specifications and identifying healthcare facilities in need of this vital safety equipment.

Eiko White, Director at Blackman & White, commented: “We have all seen the terrible stories of our heroic doctors, nurses and care workers fighting the Covid-19 virus without the right PPE.”

“It’s heartbreaking and we wanted to try to do what we can to help in some small way. Our team looked at the machines available to us and which products we could design and manufacture from scratch, starting with a visor but with the possibility to follow-up with other much-needed PPE.”

She continued: “We can easily make 300 per day, but we are struggling to source the right quality material - this is where we need help. 1mm polycarbonate or 1mm acetate are the big stumbling blocks.”

“Our customers, who have been quick to come forward and offer their assistance, have been making do with alternatives, but supplies are drying up and, inherently, the costs are climbing. If we can get access to the right material, we can hopefully do our bit to protect NHS and care workers on the frontline.”

Blackman & White, which employs 28 people, says it is the UK’s only manufacturer of cutting systems, with all machines designed and manufactured from start to finish at its UK factory.

The company celebrated 55 years in business in 2018 and says it has developed a hugely successful range of high-quality machinery that boasts longevity and the flexibility of holding multiple combinations of knife, laser and marking tools. A surge of orders from UK and overseas customers has seen it build an enviable reputation in the aerospace, automotive, graphics, marine and print sectors, it claims.

Eiko concluded: “If we can get the material supply right the only other barrier is getting our design signed off by the healthcare sector. Although the CE restrictions have been relaxed, it would be great to know that our visor is safe and going to perform the job it has been designed to do - save lives.”

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