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INSPIRE Talk: Coronavirus Response

12:30 pm - 12:30 pm

In the first of our new Making the Difference strand of talks (which explore making as a tool of social change), join us in conversation with Hack the Pandemic, Airway Medical and independent face shield producer Jo Symmons.

Together we’ll explore how they went from their day jobs to mobilising armies of volunteers and producing industrial quantities of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and healthcare products from garages, gardens and village halls around Bristol and Bath.

Between them they have raised nearly £30,000 and created over 15,000 items with materials ranging from bioplastics to acetate sheets and tools from 3D printers to a simple staple gun.

With the provision of PPE to healthcare workers becoming more formalised (and complicated) in recent weeks, we ask:

– How has their practice evolved? What have they learned?

– What hurdles have they had to overcome?

– What motivated them to start and when will they be able to stop?

Following the coronavirus outbreak, we have put measures in place to protect our team and visitors. This includes closing KWMC: The Factory. This INSPIRE Talk will now take place online!


Paul Haines and Ed Clyne – Hack the Pandemic

Paul is a part-time Software hacker and professional cyber security expert and Ed hacks hardware in academia. Together they formed Hack the Pandemic in March 2020. Hack the Pandemic are a Bristol based network of maker-volunteers using personal 3D printing machines to produce hundreds of face shields and other protective equipment to help keep local NHS staff and frontline workers safe. True to their software/ hardware development roots, they have even managed to automate parts of the process to allow for even greater levels of production and safety in their pop-up factory.

So far Hack The Pandemic has produced over 10,000 items free of charge (funded by private donations), to nurses, healthcare workers, care homes, and four major hospitals in the Bristol and Bath areas.

Simon Hall – Airway Medical

Simon came up with the idea for a novel medical suction device (to clear blocked airways) during his time as a medical engineer. He left his job in June 2019 to start his own business developing it into a reality from his garage in Knowle West. He is now developing a 3D print version of his innovation to supply free of charge to the NHS with the help of his successful ongoing fundraising campaign.

The Covid-19 pandemic got him thinking about how to simplify his design to help with the request for medical equipment. He has now developed a version that can be 3D printed and connects directly to collection jars already in use by hospitals and Emergency Services. It has the working title ‘CAMSU’.

He says: “I have a fantastic team of people refining the prototype to be as small and efficient as possible, giving their expertise to develop a bona fide medical device in double quick time.”

Jo Symmons – Independent Face Shield Production Coordinator

Jo was working as buyer in the Art Departments of Bristol’s Film and TV industry when the wheels of production ground to a halt in March. Since then she’s turned her home and garden into a production line and with the help of a group of 19 dedicated volunteers across 15 houses (and funded through public donations) has created and distributed over 3,000 face shields to residential care homes, hospitals and charities in the Bristol area.

Host: Fiona Dowling – KWMC: The Factory Digital Fabrication Technician

A small fish in a big pond, The Factory has 3D printed over 300 face shields for pharmacy staff and other frontline workers in South Bristol. Fiona also recently shared her homemade facemask tutorial on YouTube. Fiona is keen to learn more about the people making a big difference on our doorstep and will put your questions to our guests via the chat function.

About the INSPIRE Talks programme

Each month, our Factory INSPIRE Talks programme invites you into the world of inspirational makers to find out more about their journeys, motivations and processes.

The format is usually of a live talk or discussion followed by a question and answer session (Q and A).

Since March 2020, we have moved these talks online as a result of social distancing rules. We very much encourage the drinking of tea and use of the chat function within the talk to ask questions and share ideas.

After you have registered for this talk you will receive an e-mail with a link to watch the talk and instructions about how to join in the chat if you’d like to.

If you require any support in using the technology, please let us know.

For more information about this talk please e-mail

To receive the Factory newsletter with updates on all upcoming events and opportunities please register here.

Image by Josh Forwood, courtesy of Hack the Pandemic

Contact Us

Knowle West Media Centre
Leinster Avenue
Knowle West
+44 (0) 117 903 0444

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