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Rich Minifie, Ricoh 3D’s Senior Additive Manufacturing Engineer, explains how the company is using additive manufacturing to help businesses get ready for a return to work following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Millions of people across the UK are getting ready to return to their place of work with Covid-19 restrictions easing – and business owners are busy investigating how they can welcome their staff and customers back safely.

The most effective measures will include realigning desks, one-way systems and staggering shifts, but virtually since outbreak the Ricoh Family Group has been testing and refining simple changes businesses can make to minimise the risk of infection as much as possible.

3D printing is ideally placed to offer innovative solutions to help – protective face shields were our immediate focus, but our engineers have also been busy creating handy products to limit the number of surfaces people have to touch with their hands.

We have created grab handles which allow objects to be picked up without direct contact, as well as personal hooks for every employee on our own sites to open doors touch-free. 

Another nifty idea our team has come up with is a restroom control, as clearly this is one facility where room occupancy limits may be a challenge.

Like many of the best ideas, it’s very simple but extremely effective – we deliberately made these suitable for a school environment too. Essentially, it’s a sliding indicator which is moved upon entry and exit of the facilities so the number of people inside can be clearly communicated.

For facilities with occupancy limits, it’s a clear way for people to know whether there is capacity for them to enter. The sliding indicator can be moved across using the visitor’s personal hook too.

It might not be the most glamourous product we’ve ever come up with, but it is a simple, cost effective solution to a genuine problem. 

At its core, that is what 3D printing is all about. Products can be sketched out, converted into a CAD file and printed within days.

With no need for expensive and time-consuming tooling, products can be tested and tweaked instantly before large scale 3D printing. It’s modern-day design with no limits or restraints.

Our 3D HQ in Telford is now fully stocked with our Covid-19 protection products and we’re ready to make these controls available beyond our own group to support the phased return to work and help get Britain back on track.

Get in touch to enquire about these products or to talk to our engineers about our 3D CAD design service.

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