Public libraries across the country are lending their 3D printers to make face shields for frontline staff in the fight against Covid-19.

One Kilkenny-based company says it now has the capacity to produce 600 visors a week.

Like many tech firms around the world, SurfBox is coming up with innovative ways to help meet the demand for personal protective equipment - a shortage of which is leaving frontline healthcare workers putting themselves at risk.

The face shields produced by SurfBox consist of a reusable plastic headpiece and a disposable PVC screen.

Managing Director Thomas Marry said the company got involved in the project because its core business - providing self-service printing to libraries - ceased when libraries closed.

About 300 face masks have already been produced, with the first batch of 60 delivered this morning to St Dympna's Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Co Carlow.

Mr Marry says the company is working directly with local care homes, GPs and hospitals, as well as providing the product to Engineers Ireland and the HSE.

The firm created its own design for the visors, following production guidelines from the US National Institutes of Health.

Angela Cassidy, a librarian with Dublin City Libraries, said public libraries were eager to help in any way possible during the current health crisis.

To date, libraries in 13 local authorities have provided printers for the project.

Private owners of 3D printers are also using their machines to make face shields.

Cork-based engineer Sean Walsh is co-ordinating the regional effort.

He said 150 people are currently printing face shields in their homes, where they are producing about 1,000 masks per day.

The visors are then delivered to the HSE.

Anyone who owns a printer and would like to get involved can contact Engineers Ireland or the Cork-based firm, Bench Space.

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