Lifecast: Life3D make PPE for Healthcare Workers

20 Apr 2020

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Lifecast is a company based at Elstree Studios who provide prosthetics, VFX and props for the film and television industry, overseen by Creative Director, John Schoonraad. John has worked on many popular films including: Kick-Ass (2010), Beauty and the Beast (2017) and Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014).


A branch of Lifecast, Life3D produce work using 3D Scanning and Printing equipment and techniques. Life3D is run by son of John, Tristan Schoonraad and Jasper Turner with Lennie Counsel and Gracie Schoonraad. Gracie Schoonraad explains below how their 3D printing equipment is being used in effort to support key workers during the outbreak of COVID-19 by producing essential PPE:


“It all started with an online article. Somebody was suggesting 3D printing parts for ventilators and PPE for patients and frontline workers.


Until this time, we were feeling pretty useless, other than staying at home, there was nothing else we could do to contribute to the ‘war effort’. We don’t have any nursing or healthcare qualifications, but what we do have are multiple 3D printers and the team use them day in and day out as part of their artwork.


I reached out to the Borehamwood Facebook community with a hope that we could contribute to the effort. Since we put the post out asking for help and guidance, people reached out from all over the country.


It was exciting. A sense of purpose finally in our state of unease and limbo.


I have heard of the national effort described similarly to Dunkirk and I would have to agree. Collective effort from many smaller groups creates a tsunami effect in the fight against this pandemic, which buys time for government projects to come to fruition. The government are putting together vast projects and facilities. They’re big and cumbersome, and they take time to get organised.


But due to the massive shortfall in lifesaving equipment and personal protective equipment for one reason or another, it is needed now.


We have some very good family friends; an artist friend of Tristan’s and his wife, a doctor of palliative medicine. By pure coincidence they already had started hatching a similar plan to help protect frontline healthcare workers so we decided to team up with them.


This team up has become bigger than anything we could have anticipated. Our friends have formed an online hub, drawing on multiple skills and disciplines of people, including legal professionals, web designers and IT experts. Huge research has gone in to designing our PPE that stands up to the infectious environments they’ll be used in, drawing on every possible medical advice available.


The scrub and face protection hub was born.


A virtual headquarters for coordinating hundreds of volunteers that have adapted their skill sets to 3D print and sew personal protection equipment (PPE), healthcare workers to order PPE for their place of work. All of which is free of charge at point of ‘sale’.


People have given us financial back up, which has helped to cover some direct costs of materials and are helping to deliver the goods in their cars.


The initial funding, we so generously received from our friends at Sunnymarch Productions. Adam Ackland and Benedict Cumberbatch kickstarted our project. It has enabled my husband and I to buy additional 3D printers, the material and essential supplies plus the setup of the website to maximise the manufacture of PPE that is so desperately needed. We now have multiple printers printing face visors twenty-four hours a day.


Small numbers, considering there are over half a million frontline workers. However, add up small pockets of ‘us.’ We can make a big impact.


We are bridging the chasm between safe healthcare practice with adequate personal protection equipment and potentially tragic consequences.”


Managing Director of Elstree Studios, Roger Morris, said: ‘The film and tv industry has many transferable skills and Lifecast demonstrate how these film and tv creative skills can help the health industry generally and especially at this terrible time. Their initiative is fantastic and we applaud them.’