With the help of their Swift-Cut plasma cutting machine Swansea university shifts from solar to hand sanitiser – producing 5000 litres a week for the NHS
A solar tech lab at Swansea University has temporarily switched to producing 5000 litres of hand sanitiser a week, to help the NHS fight the Coronavirus outbreak. The sanitiser, which meets the standard set by the World Health Organization, is already in use in the Welsh NHS.
Their amazing team is made up of over 30 volunteers from three different Swansea University Colleges and Schools whose mission is to support Wales’ NHS heroes whilst they fight the global pandemic on the front line.
Manufacturing is being led by SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, who specialise in solar research and in developing buildings that generate, store and release their own solar energy.
They have a very wide skillset amongst the team at SPECIFIC, mainly focused around engineering and chemistry. They are involved with the upscale of novel ideas for integration to industry (the stepping stone between academia and industrial scale production) , so when their facilities manager Mark Watkins was asked if they could share some ideas for making large batches of hand sanitiser, they jumped at the chance to get stuck in, and a few days later were mixing 1000 litres of sanitiser at a time.
The Swift-Cut machine
Their Swift-Cut cnc machine came into play when it became apparent that although they were producing large 5 litre bottles of sanitiser, it wasn’t convenient for all end users (frontline workers) to carry a very large quantity of sanitiser around – the demand for smaller containers was increasing, but smaller bottles means more time spent and accuracy required when filling the bottles.
Tom Griffiths, Technology Transfer Fellow (Smart Systems) decided to have a play with the Swift-Cut machine without actually doing any plasma cutting. His prior experience with retrofitting and fault finding CNC controllers came in to play and after a day spent wiring and levelling the machine they had an XYZ gantry CNC bottler!
He knew that in the future the CNC would be used as a plasma cutter again, so with this in mind, he’s made every modification completely reversible.
By Friday, the 10th of July, they will be at more than 10,000 x 60ml bottles – the Swift Cut machine can fill 1,000 bottles in 16 minutes.
The hand sanitiser bottles have gone initially to frontline workers and they’re now getting interest from schools and small local businesses as they gear up with their plans to return to work safely.
If you’re interested to know more technical details about how Specific managed to temporarily repurpose their Swift-Cut Pro plasma cutting table, please get in touch.