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The University of Sheffield AMRC has helped a small design company develop novel PPE to keep clinicians safe while working in COVID-19 intensive care units.  Additive manufacturing experts at the AMRC made crucial parts for a protective respirator prototype within a week to help a small design company develop novel PPE to keep clinicians safe while working in COVID-19 intensive care units.

The Bubble PAPR is a low-cost Powered Air-Purifying Respirator developed by Designing Science, a med-tech design consultancy, working with clinicians at Wythenshawe Hospital, part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), and specialists at Manchester University, to protect frontline healthcare staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The simple low-cost device consists of a reusable collar that sits around the neck and a single-use plastic hood that can be easily recycled.  The collar contains a fan to draw in air through a virus filter and delivers a cooling airflow around the face.  It is designed to be compatible with stringent infection control practices but be comfortable to wear for the duration of a shift in ICU, or other high-risk areas.  The wearer’s face is also clearly visible to improve communication between staff and patients.

Rapid polymer prototypes for critical components including the Bubble PAPR’s ventilation system, impeller and fan housing, were created by Mark Cocking, the AMRC’s polymer additive technical lead at the Design and Prototyping Group, using funding from the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult to get the job done even quicker. 

Patrick Hall, managing director of Designing Science, said the AMRC’s expertise and rapid response allowed them to complete the design successfully.  The project is one of hundreds that the AMRC and the HMV Catapult fund as part of their commitment to smaller and medium sized UK businesses.

A patent has been filed and the development team are now working with manufacturing partners to produce Bubble PAPR in large volumes and signing up distribution partners. The aim is to have it widely available for front line staff, before the end of 2020.

You can read more of this story on the AM-UK web-site at and for more information on the project please visit