Plastic Parts Inc., an injection molder in Union Grove, Wis., has added face shields made with recyclable plastic components to its product offering and is giving a lot of the credit to a determined engineer.
Company officials were talking about the need for more U.S.-made personal protective equipment, and engineer Steve Brown stepped up to the challenge, according to a news release.
Brown came up with a face shield that the company says meets guidelines for medical-grade face shields, is comfortable and is made with PET and polypropylene parts.
The face shield consists of optically clear PET with an anti-fog coating, a visor made of recycled PP and an adjustable TPE band. The design provides top coverage and leaves clearance space for glasses and masks to be worn comfortably.
"We all know a family member, friend or loved one that is on the medical front line and has not been able to protect themselves from the virus," Brown, a 40-year plastics industry veteran, said. "It would go against all that I had been taught and believed in to not do anything."
Plastic Parts is now dedicating part of its plant to supply face shields to front-line health care workers and the public. Company officials said their new product line is important to not only fighting the pandemic but enabling a safer work environment as the economy reopens.
They point to an April 29 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association about a study done by three physicians at the University of Iowa who say face shields offer numerous advantages over face masks.
For optimal protection, the article says the shield should extend below the chin anteriorly, to the ears laterally, and there should be no exposed gap between the forehead and the shield's headpiece.
"While medical masks have limited durability and little potential for reprocessing, face shields can be reused indefinitely and are easily cleaned with soap and water or common household disinfectants," the article says. "They are comfortable to wear, protect the portals of viral entry and reduce the potential for autoinoculation by preventing the wearer from touching their face."
The article also notes that people wearing medical masks sometimes have to remove them to communicate with others, which isn't necessary with face shields.
"The use of a face shield is also a reminder to maintain social distancing, but allows visibility of facial expressions and lip movements for speech perception," the article says.
In addition, face shields appear to reduce the amount of inhalation exposure to droplet-spread respiratory viruses, the article says.
"In a simulation study, face shields were shown to reduce immediate viral exposure by 96 percent when worn by a simulated health care worker within 18 inches of a cough," the article says.
It goes on to say: "When the study was repeated at the currently recommended physical distancing distance of 6 feet, face shields reduced inhaled virus by 92 percent, similar to distancing alone, which reinforces the importance of physical distancing in preventing viral respiratory infections."
Plastic Parts officials said they can produce 10,000 face shields a week. The company is working with Project N95, a national clearinghouse that matches procurement teams for PPE with vetted suppliers, Wisconsin Network Supply and others.
Plastic Parts is selling its face shields for $4.99 each online. For information about volume discounts, call 262-878-3776 Ext. 210.