A Bradford teenager is using a home 3D printer bought as a birthday present to produce vital Personal Protective Equipment for local hospitals, GP practices, pharmacies and care homes.

Since April, Harvey Ryder (18), a former Hanson Academy student who lives in Bradford, has joined forces with other local residents to produce 1,500 visors to protect local health care professionals from Covid-19 infection while working on the front lines.

A student of UTC Leeds, the University Technical College for 14-19 year olds that specialises in employer-led engineering studies, Harvey is studying A Levels in Maths, Physics and Double Engineering and has been using the design and prototyping skills learned through college to bring his visor production to life.

After enlisting the support of friends with 3D printers and given access to UTC facilities – which opened for just a few hours each day to support the project and increase production– Harvey is now calling out for materials from Bradford firms to help support with spiralling costs and continued production.

Harvey said: “The equipment we’re producing is to protect key workers from the particles which are transmitted through coughs and sneezes and help to reduce their chance of infection – so far our deliveries have included Bradford Royal Infirmary, Huddersfield Royal, Leeds General Infirmary, Barkerend GP practice and local care homes. But a real challenge for us is rocketing costs and demand for materials since we started back in April.

“Prices of A4 binder sheets have tripled due to problems with importing and shipping so we’ve needed to look for alternative materials for production. Sourcing A4 binder covers or any other PVC A4 sheets is a challenge - alongside 2.85mm PLA 3D printer filament. Medium sized cardboard boxes would also be a great help for us with distribution.”

He added: “If Bradford businesses could support by donating any of these supplies, we know we can continue producing to help meet the huge demand across the district and the wider region.”

Harvey’s manufacturing process involves using the 3D printer to make the ‘headband’ and then attaching A4 sheets of clear plastic binder covers or laminating sheets to protect the face. “We started a Facebook group to handle orders and donations and soon found other Bradford residents with 3D printers wanted to help,” Harvey explained. “We initially raised around £700 on Facebook and were then supported by the college and allowed limited use of the premises to help with production.”

Harvey’s “can do” attitude and ability to galvanise the local community has been praised by business leaders, the local council, business groups and BIDs across the district who, as part of the new drive to reinforce the restart, renew and rebuild process are sharing experiences and best practice using the hashtag #TogetherBradfordCan to increase the spread of positive recovery news.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport for Bradford Council, said: “Bradford is the UK’s youngest city and Harvey is a great example of our young entrepreneurs putting their spirit to good uses and demonstrating, through this crisis, that “Together Bradford Can”. His initiative demonstrates just what can be achieved using local resources and has inspired a generation – and a business community – with his PPE making project which will help to protect key workers across our district.”

Sandy Needham, Chief Executive of Bradford Chamber of Commerce, added: “Harvey is a wonderful example of a new generation of designers, engineers and manufacturers who embrace today’s digital technology to innovate, produce and supply resources which are vital to the functionality of our region and the country.

“Bradford is home to 1,225 manufacturers and engineering businesses and together with organisations such as the University of Bradford and UTC Leeds, are educating, inspiring and facilitating a new era of production brilliance in our young people. This is why our very own Bradford Manufacturing Weeks is such an important initiative which encourages young people to look closely at the opportunities for a rewarding career right here on their doorstep. It’s important that we recognise and support young role models like Harvey as he represents the future of manufacturing and engineering in our district, our region and our country.”

Harvey added: “My motivation for printing PPE equipment was always to help key workers. What I didn’t expect was to inspire younger generations to consider a career in engineering! I’m so pleased we are genuinely making a difference to people who are working on the front line and that providing this service has unexpectedly helped to put engineering on the map by demonstrating that this industry is about problem solving and helping others – and in this instance, helping to keep people safe.”

Harvey has been offered a place at the University of Southampton to study Aeronautics and Astronautics before becoming a fast jet pilot for the RAF.

UTC Leeds Principal, Hannah Wilson, added: “Harvey is an exceptional student who will make a valuable and lifelong contribution to society and the engineering industry. We are extremely proud of his efforts to support key workers during this difficult time and we’re delighted that we can support him.”