One thing you can say about 2020: It has certainly proved how adaptable plastic products are and the plastics industry is. Can't make car parts? Make ventilators instead. Need protective medical gowns? Let's convert a trash bag film line to make them. Got a 3D machine for prototype manufacturing? Let's use it to make face shields, respirator components and something called "ear protectors" you never knew existed six months ago.
The latest case in point comes out of Pensacola, Fla.-based Hy-Lite, whose 8-by-8-inch acrylic blocks are typically used in architecture but are now being converted into protective panels to protect medical workers and the public at a Montana tribal health center.
The Salish and Kootenai College Health Center in Pablo — just south of Flathead Lake in northern Montana — is part of the Confederated Salish and Kootenia Tribes (CSKT) Tribal Health Department. It needed a good system to separate workers, the public and patients to control the spread of COVID-19. After first considering cloth panels, local business Valley Glass Inc. recommended the Acrylic Block Privacy Panels specially developed by Hy-Lite in response to the pandemic.
The panels are made with blocks more than an inch thick and placed into metal frames that can be wheeled into places where they're needed. The acrylic is also easy to sanitize.
"These panels are appealing to our organization due to their versatility," said Anna Parker, a medical assistant with CSKT. "They're easy to move around. This is an attractive and effective way to provide some safety barriers --- and even privacy --- to employees in their respective work areas."
Hy-Lite, part of U.S. Block Windows Co., sells the panels through its own online store.