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National Physical Laboratory (NPL) creates digital test bed for face masks

The team at NPL will be creating a digital demonstrator that will be capable of evaluating PPE performance against selected standard requirements.

  • NPL leading a project to create a digital test bed for face masks
  • The test bed will act as a demonstrator to help drive digital innovation in UK manufacturing supply chains

London November 2020 – The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) are leading a project to create a digital test bed for face masks, to help drive digital innovation in UK manufacturing supply chains. 

The project is being funded through the “Manufacturing made smarter” funding competition run by Innovate as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) and is a great example of how NPL is helping UK manufacturing supply chains to develop digital technologies to become more efficient, productive and resilient.

The team at NPL will be creating a digital demonstrator that, once refined, will be capable of evaluating PPE performance against selected standard requirements. The rigs will be testing against critical aspects of the BS EN149 standard and include demonstrations of three key measurements of face masks, including dimensional, filtration efficiency and total inward leakage testing.

NPL will be working closely with the University of Birmingham, who will be able to use the data produced through this project by NPL to validate and refine their models used to produce bespoke face masks.

All data will be captured and analysed electronically, providing evidence that the digitalisation of manufacturing processes is achievable, therefore helping to drive digital innovation within the sector. 

The majority of this work will be taking place in the NPL North of England Laboratory and links closely to previous work the team carried out to ensuring safe PPE was designed, manufacturing and delivered by supporting new manufacturers.

Andy Morris MBE, Head of Operations for NPL North, states: “The convergence of digital technologies with manufacturing processes promises to alter the landscape of global manufacturing competition. This digital demonstrator, produced at NPL, will take us another step closer to realising what digital innovation is achievable and what that could mean for UK manufacturing. It will also inform future NPL testing and verification work and enable us to transform some of our processes, ultimately supporting manufacturers to better integrate and optimise the performance of their supply chains.”

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