In the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, I worked for the (then-daily) newspaper in Saginaw, Mich. Saginaw was also home to the steering division of General Motors, which was then spun off to Delphi and now is a standalone business called Nexteer Automotive.
The reason I mention this is that if you asked people where they worked, it was very typical to hear them say "the gun plant." Everyone knew they were referring to the steering gear company's second plant. It was built by GM during World War II, specifically to make machine guns for the U.S. military. It was a source of community pride that Saginaw had built that plant, made guns, then converted it to regular auto part production as soon as the war ended.
And now, during a new global crisis, the company that makes steering systems and used to make guns has started making face shields and face masks. So this is a company that has a deep history in filling needs.
Nexteer isn't traditionally a plastics firm, but it is using its 3D printers normally used in prototyping in both Saginaw and Tychy, Poland, to make parts for shields and masks.
In addition, the company said, its Saginaw operation is working with mold maker Mayer Tool & Engineering Inc. to use an injection molding machine in one of its plants to produce 1,000 medical-grade masks per day.
"The mold manufacturer is working around the clock to help speed up the development process so production can begin as soon as possible," Nexteer said in an April 2 news release. "Nexteer has also been working closely with its resin supplier, PolyOne Corp., to supply the materials necessary to manufacture the face masks."