By PHYLLIS HODGES
Several weeks ago, The Observer News published a story about the Handling the Future group in Valencia Lakes making face shields using its 3D printing capabilities. This is a follow-up to that story and is an example of a business contributing its services during this difficult period.
The Handling the Future team is continually working to improve and speed up its process for making personal protection equipment. President Richard Brown practically vibrates with excitement when talking about acquiring a superior material to replace the type of plastic made from laminating pouches they have been using. “We contacted a plastics company in upstate New York (which has a branch in Largo, Florida,) about acquiring a high-grade polycarbonate and were successful in doing so,” said Brown. “The material we are buying in 2-foot by 4-foot sheets is actually the grade of plastic that is used for eyeglasses. However, cutting one face screen at a time from the sheets was still be extremely time-consuming.”
That’s where M&M Printing Company in Ruskin stepped up to the plate. M&M Production Manager David Payne’s interest was piqued when Brown dropped some shields off for use by M&M employees.
“I had a feeling we could help in some way,” Payne said. He asked about the group’s production process, and as Brown talked about the manual labor involved in cutting and rounding the corners, Payne realized M&M could cut the sheets face-screen size, using its commercial cutting equipment.
“I later asked how the group’s members were rounding the corners and learned they were using little clippers,” Payne said. At no charge, M&M workers cut 100 sheets into material for 1,200 face shields for them in a few hours. (They can cut 500 simultaneously if needed.) They also rounded the corners, which required a few more hours. The shields are produced in various sizes, depending on their use by front-line workers, so M&M minimized manual cutting with that, too.
“We were more than happy to help modernize the process; we are all in this together,” Payne added.
Brown says the team is receiving donations, which enable the team to have 3D printing materials to continue producing shields as fast as they can. They have been distributing the shields to front line workers and foresee a big need in personal protective equipment (PPE) developing when personal service businesses are permitted to open. These shields will provide an extra protective barrier between the workers and patrons in businesses.
Brown likened the personal protection provided by the shields to that of shields that many stores have installed at checkout counters.
The Valencia Lakes group has shields available now to be donated. Call Brown at 914-475-2863 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
For more information about M&M Printing Company, visit mmprintinc.com, or call 813-645-4808. Located at 210 Woodland Estates Ave. SW, Ruskin, FL 33570.