Teachers and students from a Dorchester school are helping out local care homes and hospices by making protective equipment with laser cutters and 3D printers.

Mark Richardson and Simon Patel are design and technology teachers at The Thomas Hardye School. Since the school has been closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, they have been putting their classroom equipment to good use by manufacturing face masks and delivering them to frontline services.

Their design is based on one currently being supplied by Kitronik of Nottingham, where it has been given approval for use by medical professionals and is already being used by hospital staff.

The design used by Mr Richardson and Mr Patel has been adapted so it can be cut in the most efficient way using the equipment they have available at the school. They have already donated 30 masks to the Mid Dorset Integrated Hub, 40 masks to Weldmar Hospicecare's Inpatient Unit and a further 20 masks to Cerne Abbas Surgery, who have forwarded these to Casterbridge Manor Care Home.

Mr Richardson said: "We are trying to make 100 or so a week but obviously we can't mass produce these and are producing at a level that is sustainable.

"A lot of the equipment in use at the moment like masks and gloves are single-use but we are trying to make masks that can be cleaned with alcohol and can be reused if cleaned responsibly.

"A small number of students are also making 3D printed ones at home. They take a bit longer to make but are a bit more robust.

"What we are particularly interested in is if anybody has a 3D printer at home and wants to help contribute. They can get in touch with us and we can offer advice and guidance.

"It's a sad story that there's not enough PPE for the people that really need it, but we did offer these to hospitals and they said that their stocks are actually really good now, so it is more the care homes and hospices that need this equipment now and district nurses, people like that.

"My wife is a health worker, which brings it into stark reality for me. It's just that there are real people in real need of this at the moment. We see it every day on the news and the reality is that if we get a few of these to a few people that need them they might not get infected.

"It reminds me of Dunkirk, the 3D printing community is a bit like that, with people doing this on small printers in their own homes across the country."

To get involved, email mrichardson@thomas-hardye.net.