The COVID-19 pandemic has led resin distributors to help out wherever they can.
M. Holland Co. of Northbrook, Ill., in March transformed a common area at its headquarters into a production room for medical masks during the COVID-19 crisis. The firm is using three 3D printers to make clear face masks from glycol-modified PET filament.
After the skin-safe masks are printed, they're assembled once a week by a shift of eight employees who have volunteered to do the work. Volunteers wear full-protection suits while assembling the masks.
The volunteers attach filters and seals to the masks. M. Holland now can make 200 per week. Once completed, the masks are donated to local hospitals and other organizations.
One recent donation had a connection to M. Holland's long history. The firm donated 500 face masks to the Little City Foundation. Little City was founded to serve developmentally disadvantaged children and adults in the greater Chicago area.
M. Holland "has opened up a door for so many people," Health and Wellness Director Tina Lowry said on LinkedIn. "The donation of the face shields will assist those we serve in returning to this new normal that involves health and wellness safeguards."
In an email to Plastics News, M. Holland President and CEO Ed Holland said that the Holland and Gerber families are cousins and that both have been involved with Little City for more than 50 years.
Charles Gerber was on M. Holland's board of directors until his death in 1998. His twin brother, Marshall, replaced him on the board and is currently an outside member of the firm's executive leadership team. Charles and Marshall Gerber were on Little City's board.
Marshall Gerber "is a key adviser to the company and to me personally and professionally," Ed Holland said. M. Holland is an annual donor to Little City.
"The team that approached our 3D team was unaware of the previous relationship, and our 3D people were unaware as well," Holland said. "They made it work before we even knew about it."
M. Holland is one of North America's largest resin distributors. The firm sells more than $1 billion in materials to more than 4,000 customers annually.
PolySource of Independence, Mo., donated glass-filled polypropylene resin for a plastic door opener called the Handle Me Not, which is designed to slow the spread of COVID-19. The openers were created by entrepreneurs Deric Powell and Craig Hanna of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Powell and Hanna contacted PolySource with the idea. PolySource then put them in touch with injection molder Bruin Manufacturing Co. of Marshalltown, Iowa. Bruin made the first 2,000 parts free of charge.
"We connected [Powell and Hanna] to Bruin, who wanted to help as well," PolySource CEO Grant John said. "They jumped on the opportunity quickly, built tooling and launched the program." Bruin has been a PolySource customer for 17 years and was one of John's first customers.
Ravago Americas said earlier this year that the firm and its business units are positioned to meet the challenge of materials demand related to COVID-19.
Orlando, Fla.-based Ravago's distribution units include Amco Polymers, Burcham International, Channel Prime Alliance, Entec Polymers, Genesis Polymers and Muehlstein, as well as its own chemicals and manufacturing units. Officials said that all of these businesses "are helping to meet the urgent demand for polymers and chemicals used in critical products for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 for protection of those on the front lines."
Products using materials distributed by Ravago include test kits, diagnostic consumables, ventilator components and personal protective equipment, including face shields. Ravago's chemicals unit also is providing ingredients used in hand sanitizers and other critical products to help slow the spread of the virus.
"Ravago has been a key supplier to the medical and packaging industries for decades, and we are humbled to do our part to help combat this pandemic," CEO Jim Duffy said in the release.
Ravago employs 7,000 worldwide and sells more than 12 billion pounds of resins and compounds per year. The firm's compounding and recycling facilities have more than 2 billion pounds of annual production capacity.
The distribution unit of Avient Corp. — formerly PolyOne — donated masterbatch concentrates to injection molding firm Westfall Technik Inc. to make medical masks and mask straps. The masks and straps then were donated to the health care industry.
Las Vegas-based Westfall is making the reusable masks at its Extreme Tool & Engineering plant in Wakefield, Mich. The straps went from design to molded parts in four days and are being molded at Westfall's 10 Day Parts plant in Corona, Calif.