In the recent weeks the world has been scrambling to obtain essential Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs) to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, many of Utah’s advanced materials companies have pivoted their production lines to make this equipment. Here are a few examples of the great work being done:
DPS Skis , Goal Zero, Petzl and Eastman Machine Company
These four Utah companies recently joined forces to manufacture medical-grade reusable polycarbonate face shields for the Utah Department of Health. Production of the face shields is taking place at DPS Skis’ Salt Lake City factory with the first shipment of shields expected to be delivered in the coming weeks. The three other companies are offering their expertise as well with tooling donated by Eastman, raw materials purchased by Goal Zero and retrofitted headlamp headbands offered by Petzl.
“Our entire team is proud to be contributing to the nationwide effort of PPE production and are humbled by the enthusiastic support of key partners that are helping make this possible. With a 15-year history of rapid prototype-to-production manufacturing, we are in a unique situation to convert a major portion of our operations to produce protective medical face shields,” said Alex Adema, DPS President and CEO.
“We are inspired by the healthcare workers who dedicate their lives to helping others. Their selfless sacrifices deserve recognition as they continue to mitigate the risk of COVID-19’s spread. We are humbled to have found ourselves in a position to mobilize this project with the passionate, soulful team at DPS and our amazing partners.”
Industrial Supply is a 100-year-old company, with six locations in Utah, Nevada, and Wyoming. They are already a major supplier of PPE and have long standing relationships with suppliers such as 3M. Because of this, they have been able to quickly respond to the need for PPE’s and have been partnering with customers to get supplies out quickly and offer education on new technologies.
KIHOMAC is an advanced materials aerospace manufacturing company in Layton, Utah. During the crisis they have produced 3,000 nasal swabs and, with the recent addition of a new 3-D printer, they will soon be able to produce approximately 8,000 nasal swabs per week. In addition, KIHOMAC is exploring manufacturing the MIT respirators.
Solid Carbon Products
Solid Carbon Products is a small Utah company which has developed a process to use carbon dioxide (CO2) as a feed stock and convert it to useful carbon products such as carbon nanofibers, graphite, and carbon nanotubes. Because they have a permit to buy absolute ethanol they recently switched up their production and begin making hand sanitizer. Although they use a traditional formula for the sanitizer (alcohol, glycerin and aloe vera), the company has taken a unique approach to packaging and recommended application. The bottles are a bit larger than normal and are sized to fit nicely in a car’s cup holders. They also come with clever instructions stating, “By using hand sanitizer when we get into our cars, we are reducing the likelihood of a virus hitchhiking from the store back to our homes and families. We aren’t waiting to get home to wash our hands; we are acting immediately to keep our cars as a ‘clean safe zone.”
Salt Lake Community College
Recently, faculty at the SLCC Westpointe campus have moved from being advanced manufacturing educators to educators who manufacture. Peter Reed, program manager for advanced manufacturing tech at SLCC, is a big reason this is happening. Rather than let their expensive injection molding machines sit idle right now Peter and others devised a way to use the high-tech machines for making durable, reusable masks – thousands of them.
Originally, the idea was to make masks using the school’s 3D printers. However, that process took time and Peter wanted to get masks to those in need much faster than the printers could produce. Injection molding machines were the answer and molds were quickly purchased under an agreement that allows SLCC to manufacture masks for donation for up to six months. With a budget of $60,000, the college purchased enough materials to keep going for about two months – enough to make about 12,000 to 13,000 masks.. Read more…..
While there are certainly many more, these are just a few examples of Utah’s manufacturing companies stepping up to help out with the COVID-19 recovery.