Opus Technical help NHS heroes

Macclesfield manufacturers Opus Technical Ltd are using their production skills to make vital face visors for our NHS heroes.

The Blackwell family, which owns and runs Opus Technical, is running an out of hours operation from their garden shed and have already made nearly 2000 visors. The idea was the brainchild of Opus co-owner and Technical Director John Blackwell, whose family have been manufacturing high-tech chemical process equipment since the 1950s.

The medium sized business located off Queens Avenue in Macclesfield is still working on standard duties, with most staff able to work from home.

However, starting at 5am as light breaks, John goes down to his shed to clean, service and reset three 3D printers which can then make face visors throughout the day. John’s children and former King’s School pupils Harry, Tom and Tori and current King’s Sixth Former Flossie, then assemble the products during the day, adding head bands and rubber seals for comfort.

John said: “We have taken the design from specifications off the Internet and added our own modifications to maximize comfort and protection.”

John has joined forces with King’s pupils Ben McIlveen and Bryn Barker, whom he mentored as part of the school’s Engineering Education Scheme (EES), and who have also made some 2000 masks for GP practices and care homes in and around the High Peak and for The Christie in Manchester. John has worked with King’s for the last four years to mentor A Level science students who seek to find novel solutions to real-life engineering problems.

John said: “We have two Intensive Care doctors in our extended family and two nurses also working on Covid-19 in wards in Manchester so we know only too well about their needs and the needs of all NHS and social care workers on the front line. As a family we have a lot of engineering expertise and know that to run this sort of operation you need to clean, service and renew machinery.

“We have been going for nearly two weeks solid and the three printers we bought to do this are wearing down and need constant supervision.”

When John returns from work at 6pm, the first thing he does is check the operation in his shed and set it up to run throughout the night, while brother Bill, Opus's Sales & marketing Director, picks up finished head bands so he, his wife Hilary and daughter Gabrielle can assemble them at their home as well.

Opus bought the additional 3D printers specifically for their voluntary work for the NHS and are supplying all goods free of charge to GP practices and carehomes in and around Macclesfield, to The Christie and to the hospitals where their family members work. Via social media and thanks to friends and fellow King’s parents they are receiving donations to help buy the materials and parts and have set up a funding site to help with the costs. https://www.gofundme.com/f/opus-manufacturing-ppe-for-nhs.

John said: “We are in this for the long haul and intend to keep the operation going for as long as the crisis continues.”