Before COVID-19, business for United Kingdom-based injection molder Denroy Plastics Ltd. were mainly focused on the aviation, medical and the automotive industries. When the pandemic hit, the company turned its capabilities to designing and manufacturing clinical-grade personal protection equipment (PPE).
The company has now supplied more than 1 million units of its HeroShield visor to the U.K.'s National Health Service frontline staff.
Designing and developing its own tooling, Denroy produced the 100 percent recyclable visor at its Bangor, Northern Ireland, manufacturing site. Molded from polypropylene and glycol-modified PETG sheet it is a light, clear, antifog visor which protects the whole face, including the eyes.
Denroy Managing Director, John Irwin said the project was an expansion for the companies and led to a new brand.
"Denpro is our first proprietary brand. For almost 50 years we have used our innovation skills in high-tech, critical polymer components for the aerospace, medical, automotive and defence industries and for our sister company Denman, who produce iconic hairbrushes. We will utilize these established technical abilities to manufacture a range of PPE products under the Denpro brand, available to everyone," he said in a news release.
The company has already added a second product to the collection, a recyclable, clear thermoplastic elastomer, sterilizable mask with changeable filters designed for use by the general public.
The clear Denpro Bubl mask makes it ideal for those with impaired hearing as it allows for lip reading.
"We have designed it to be one size fits all, with adjustable elastic straps creating a seal around the face and allowing the Bubl mask to be [certified]," Irwin said.
Prior to these developments Denroy already had a strategy to replace existing molding machinery with more energy efficient and technologically advanced injection molding machines from Engel. The company currently has Engel machines ranging from 50–900 metric tons. As part of this existing replacement plan, Denroy has a 600-tonne duo machine on order.
However, in order to meet the demand for the new PPE products, Denroy has also invested in three more Engel tie-barless injection molding machines. At 80, 120 & 160 tonnes, the standard machines are being supplied with fully integrated Viper 6 robots, under Engel's Fast Track quick delivery system, which will ensure that Denroy are rapidly manufacturing in the quantities they need.
"Without plastics, the medical response to COVID-19 would have been very different and the situation may have been a lot worse. Plastics enabled protection to be provided very rapidly. It continues to be extremely valuable, but now the requirements of organisations like the NHS have become more demanding. Recyclability and the reusability of high-quality products have rightly, become important as the immediate pressure has lessened."
In addition, he said, there is a drive for self-sufficiency in the manufacturing of these products within the United Kingdom.