In March it became clear that the world was changing due to Coronavirus and businesses needed to change with it.
Employees began social distancing, in the workplace, and the community.
Many started working remotely, and entire industries were halted as a cloud of uncertainty hung over the global economy.
During these trying times, individuals and businesses around the world were lending a hand to help in the fight against COVID-19.
We wanted to do our part as well.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is one of the most critical needs for nurses, doctors, long-term care facility workers, and first responders who are on the front lines helping to combat Coronavirus.
PowerFilm works with advanced plastics in manufacturing flexible solar panels, and the company's leadership team decided in early April they would do what they could to help fill the PPE shortage.
PowerFilm VP of Engineering, Brad Scandrett, analyzed the machines we use for solar manufacturing and determined how we could re-tool to help in this fight.
Leveraging an open-source design from Erik Cederberg / 3DVerkstan in Sweden (designed in response to COVID-19), we made a die to rapidly cut the clear plastic shields and began working with a local injection mold partner (PDP in Newton, Iowa) for the "brow" portion which holds the shield onto a person's head.
The face shield designer himself joined in posting a video we shared with him, demonstrating how the die cutter works.
Watch the video below to see our die cutting machine punching out the shields.
We began selling face shields at an affordable price for those who need them with a focus on our home state of Iowa, with an emphasis on local communities.
"We really want to focus on serving the small and medium-sized facilities that may not have regular suppliers or be at the top of the list for scarce PPE like the big hospital systems," Brad Scandrett, Vice President of Engineering at PowerFilm.
Word of mouth led to orders trickling in from all over the country, and we have been busy receiving and fulfilling orders throughout April and into May.
Face shields were headed to hospitals, clinics, dentists, emergency management groups, and sheriff's departments.
Local news station WOI-DT (an ABC affiliate) covered our efforts as an example of how businesses in Iowa are adapting to these strange times.
You can see the segment below:
While business has been anything but usual these past few months, hearing from medical personnel who have used our shields keeps us motivated and helps reaffirm the real-world benefits of the PPE we are manufacturing.
"Thank you! As a Registered Respiratory Therapist, it was very comforting to receive my face shield for my protection in preparation for the COVID-19 patients that we will care for. Just out of curiosity I looked at mine to see if it said where it was made. I Googled "PowerFilm Solar" and was delighted to discover that you were in Ames, Iowa. I was touched by the "STAY SAFE" message on the mask. Thank you so much for my face shield, it could just save my life!"
Registered Respiratory Therapist
Clarke County Hospital
"I just wanted to share that you & your team are saving lives. By what you are doing, you are protecting front line nurses who are doing testing, contact investigations, (Going person to person), and boots on the ground in the plant. On behalf of all nurses "out in the field"; a BIG THANK YOU!!"
Mona Everson RN
Owner, CEO, and President of Life & Healthcare, Inc.
Webster City, IA.
"Just wanted to thank you for your efforts to provide PPE to Health Care Providers in these difficult times. Sarah, Corporate Procurement Officer for ABCM Corporation, purchased the face shields for the corporation and we received them the other day. Very well done and very well made. Great design. Comfortable to wear. Thanks again for your efforts."
John Boughton, LNHA
Southfield Wellness Community
Webster City, IA
If Coronavirus has taught us anything, it's that we need to work together.
It takes a team collaborating to affect real change.
Thank you to all the nurses, doctors, long-term care facility workers, and first responders who are on the front lines helping to combat Coronavirus.
Your work matters more than you will ever know.
Thank you for your courage and sacrifice.