UNIVERSITY boffins have joined the fightback against coronavirus by making face shields for frontline staff.

Staff at the University of Sussex worked into the early hours of the morning to make the masks, which will need to be tested by the NHS

If successful, they hope to make 1,000 face shields per day by May, making use of kit including 3D printers and laser cutters.

It means that it takes them just 90 seconds to make a face shield through their trial and error.

The volunteers have been led by mechanical engineering teaching fellow Harri Koivisto, engineering PhD student Daniel Payne, and IT services team Dr Tan Sharma.

Their efforts have been praised by the university’s vice chancellor Prof Adam Tickell.

He said: “We are all incredibly proud of what Harri and his team have been able to achieve in such a short space of time.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to help those on the frontline of battling coronavirus and we know this is going to make a significant difference in our region.

“Thank you to everybody involved.”

Professor Jonathan Bacon, Head of the School of Engineering and Informatics, said: “This has been a tremendous School effort to contribute to the battle against Covid-19.

“We have Harri’s leadership and expertise, the right equipment and an enthusiastic team of at least 10 volunteers, notably Dr Mark Puttock-Brown and Kevin Brady, to produce significant numbers of face shields. The limiting factor right now is the availability of raw materials – PVC and polypropylene sheets. But we are working on it.”

Prof Tickell said the university has stepped up its effort during the crisis with its own taskforce to boost manufacturing of vital equipment, helping national efforts to increase the number of coronavirus tests, and researching the disease.

Distribution and testing is being co-ordinated by Dr Chi Eziefula, a senior lecturer in infection at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School.