Engineer Gavin Wilby is one of an army of concerned islanders who have joined forces to help produce vital face shields for frontline workers in the battle against Covid-19.

Mr Wilby, 47, said it did not take long for him to decide to join forces with others in the new island-wide community collaboration.

Ranging from hobbyists to professionals, the dedicated group, using a range of 3D printers and laser cutters, are co-ordinating a Covid-19 response that really represents the island’s community spirit.

Mr Wilby was one of the first members of the group to produce a face shield yesterday (Thursday) using 3D printer technology in his workshop at home in Glen Vine.

Mr Wilby, who works at Derivco, has been at home during the crisis with his wife who works at Microgaming, and his two step-children.

He told the Courier: ’In light of the news on Wednesday evening that there had been a first fatality in the island because of Covid-19 it certainly brought it home to me that it has all become real.

’That was the trigger if you like, and if we give something back to the Isle of Man and the NHS then I am 100% behind this.

’If what we are doing helps in any way then it’s got to be beneficial for the Isle of Man.’

Mr Wilby said ’time will tell’ how many pieces of PPE (personal protective equipment) he will be able to produce with his two printers.

Will Faulds from the Apple Orphanage is helping to co-ordinate the initiative and as he was speaking to the Courier yesterday put the finishing touches to a new website

He explained it was ’critically important’ that production is carried out in a manner that reduces risk of contamination. Works are underway to ensure safe logistics, magterial handling and appropriate safety measures to enable a ’no contact’ production and delivery.

Mr Faulds said: ’It is one of those situations where people were at home wondering how they can help in these dire times.

’The unprecedented challenges of Covid-19 have put our dedicated healthcare professionals and others at increased risk and people island-wide are doing whatever they can to show them the support they deserve.’

Another volunteer is Onchan resident Gary Myers. He has been 3D printing for a few years and started as a hobbyist with a home-built kit. He said: ’A friend and I are volunteers at Code Club (run by Owen Cutajar) and we quickly became "the 3D print guys".

’I use my current machine as a prototyping tool and was recently designing and developing board-game playing pieces for a local games company.’

He explained: ’When Covid-19 started to hit, I saw another Manx maker printing ’’door grabbers",’ devices to help grasp communal door handles to minimise skin contact and I quickly designed and printed my own version - which I passed around my colleagues at University College Isle of Man and posted off to those in need wherever they might be, including a retirement home in New York.

’I posted the print file on the web so anyone with a printer can download the file for free and print off as many as they need.

’I was recently contacted by Jantys, an engineering company based on the Balthane estate, to help them test their design for a custom valve to attach a snorkel mask to an ICU ventilator. Once this 3D printed design is tested and finalised, I’ll join the rest of the team printing these out as needed.’

He added: ’The Manx maker community is rallying round to help out wherever we can in producing face shields, masks and items that, in some cases like the door-grabber and ventilator valve, have never been needed before.’

â?¢ Do you, or a friend, have a 3D printer or laser cutter? Sign up and volunteer at