A Michigan-based supplier of shrink wrap wants to expand into disaster relief efforts, using its PVC and low density polyester material to build tents for emergency housing.
One of Dr. Shrink Inc.'s tents is already being tested under the harsh weather conditions in Haiti, while the company is shipping 50 tents to Japan for use in the region hit by an earthquake and tsunami in March.
“We have been thinking for several years that our shrink wrap would make an inexpensive and durable cover over simple frames for disaster zones,” said Mike Stenberg, president of Manistee, Mich.-based Dr. Shrink, in a May 11 interview.
The company worked with Muskegon, Mich.-based injection molder Camcar Plastics Inc. to design and assemble the tent frames, while Transhield Corp. of Elkhart, Ind., sews the tent covers.
Camcar will tool up to produce the frame components once production expands, said President Courtney Gust. Camcar already is a supplier to Dr. Shrink for other products.
Dr. Shrink has contacted the Red Cross and other relief agencies, but has not set up a specific distribution plan yet. It is issuing tents in Japan through its business contacts there.
At first, Dr. Shrink had designed a tent that would use heat for final construction, similar to the ways its shrink wrap is already used to protect boats and other large items stored outside, Stenberg said via email. But since workers in disaster zones already face difficult conditions, Dr. Shrink and Camcar redesigned the concept to create tents that can be assembled without tools in a short period of time.
Each tent is 8 feet by 10 feet and 7 feet high, with a floor and a door with screens and screened windows. The frames are color coded to make assembly easier. The tent material is a 1.5-inch PVC with an ultraviolet stabilizer and a soft fabric bonded to a high density polyethylene shrink wrap.
The UV protection should mean that each tent will stand up to years of use under the sun before it breaks down, Stenberg said.
“We all want to do our part to help people,” Gust said.
There is a global need for disaster relief, he added, and that includes regions in the southern U.S. hit by tornadoes in April, and communities threatened by flooding this spring.
“We're making these shelters as fast as we can, and we'd love to see them out where they're needed,” he said.