Brandauer is one of the first companies in the country to be awarded Innovate UK-backing through its Covid-19 Business-Led Innovation in Response to Global Disruption competition and is now setting its sights on increasing its capacity to produce more than 100 million nose clips for use in face masks every year.

The company, which is part of the Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN), will use the £50,000 grant to develop its ‘Quick Clip Tool’ modular tooling that will add a quick changeover capability to a progression tool, something that has never been offered to the PPE marketplace before.

This means the clips can be developed and manufactured in multiple materials, such as steel or aluminium and can be produced in various widths, thicknesses and lengths.

The project will take about five months to complete and, once in place at the firm’s Bridge Street West factory, will allow Brandauer to increase supply to existing customers and open up production capacity to other clients.

“Covid-19 has increased the demand for face masks exponentially across the world and, following the Government’s ‘mandatory’ on public transport announcement yesterday, it appears they will form an important part of the new normal for the foreseeable future,” explained Rowan Crozier, CEO of Brandauer.

“It is anticipated that we’ll need more than 10 million units every month for the UK alone, fuelled no doubt by the growing DIY face mask industry. With this in mind, there is a big opportunity for a company that can offer access to fast capacity and inexpensive tooling flexibility in how clips are developed and manufactured.”

He continued: “Having supported our existing customers with this product for over 20 years we knew what was required, but needed the additional production capability to take on new projects, including the possibility of our own nose clip production.

“The solution lay in a modular tooling concept and the Innovate UK funding is going to play an important role in supporting the initial prototyping, testing and manufacture of it.

“The Quick Clip Tool, as we’re calling it, is absolutely massive for our business and should allow us to increase the number of clips we supply from 24 million a year to 100 million. This is an immediate £500,000 opportunity at a time when some sectors have reduced volumes.”

Established in 1862, Brandauer is one of the West Midlands best kept manufacturing secrets, producing millions of high tolerance metal pressings and stampings every week for customers in the plumbing, automotive, domestic products, electrical, medical and renewables sectors.

Most of the products it makes are invisible to the user, but fundamental in making many everyday items work effectively. These include electrical connectors that are fitted in 90% of the world's kettles and edge connectors for the dimming of rear-view mirrors in 50% of modern-day cars.

New product development is central to the Queen’s Award-winning firm’s approach and over £1m is spent every year on new machinery and R&D to ensure it remains at the forefront of progression tooling, tool transfers and stamping.

This latest funding boost will give it the capability to manufacture its own nose clips that are perfect for nose bridge support and improved sealing on your homemade face masks – this follows the successful launch of its own product EloPin?, a press-fit pin that enables the solderless connection of the pins to a PCB.

“UK manufacturing has really risen to the multitude of challenges presented by Covid-19 and, thanks to the support of Innovate UK’s latest competition, we will be able to help address global PPE shortages around face masks,” added Rowan.

He concluded: “The next twelve months are going to be extremely demanding, there’s no getting away from that. However, the ‘Quick Clip Tool’ has the potential to make up for some of our sectors that are taking a little bit longer to emerge from the lockdown.”