The Plastek Group Now Molding to Donate Face Shields to Protect Against COVID-19
When this news release about The Plastek Group came across my desk detailing how the team stepped up to mold and donate face shields, I was not surprised. I’ve known this company and the generosity of its founder and family since launching MoldMaking Technology in 1998.
donating shields and masks
With a projected minimum of 2,500-4,000 pieces a day produced, The Plastek Group is now a source for a one-size-fits-all, headband style, clear-view, full face shield. VP of Sales Donald Prischak and VP of Global Tooling & Engineering Douglas Prischak believe that their dedicated team, technology and years of experience are what made this urgent project possible.
CEO Dennis Prischak often says, “If we have the capabilities to do so, then the right thing to do is to do so.”
The Plastek Group’s distribution plan will follow three stages of donations to start:
- An initial production run distributed internally to Plastek employees
- A limited production run of pilot parts
- An initial donation of 4,000 pieces
- Final production parts.
The Plastek Group reached out to local organizations and currently has acceptance for supply with University of Pennsylvania Hospitals and the Alleghany Health Network. Plastek will donate 10,000 pieces to the medical field by the middle of April.
Doing the Right Thing
CEO Dennis Prischak often says, “If we have the capabilities to do so, then the right thing to do is to do so.” This project certainly applies. “We wanted to be sure to do all that we could during this scary time. Not just for our employees, but to protect the ones that are out there protecting and providing for us, our families, neighbors, and loved ones. We also know time is of the essence, and it was essential to move quickly.”
On Monday, March 30, 2020, the Plastek Group in Erie, PA, committed to building the tool for the headband. The team used a pre-existing design. Then over the next two days, they used a Stratasys 3D printer to prototype the end product.
Norwalt was making these frames with its 3D printer, so Plastek reached out to get the model and process. The mold for this headband is open-sourced and provided another opportunity for Plastek to work with Norwalt, given its relationship as a current vendor.
On April 1st, there was no joking around, as GM Tom Hartline, Toolmaker Shawn Durfee and the team at Plastek’s Penn Erie Division got right to work, building a single-cavity mold. Plastek Corporate Package Development Engineer/R&D Team Tim Dzurik worked closely with Tom and Shawn to design and test the mold, as well as make any necessary corrections along the way. The team turned it around in 1.5 days, and then started testing on Friday, April 3rd.
Project Manager, Mike Glotzbach says, “It's incredibly heartwarming to see the amount of energy and determination that everyone has been able to pull together to get a potential lifesaving project up and running so quickly.”
Teams leading this project (members of Plastek Corporate Tooling & Engineering, Penn Erie Division (PED), and Spectrum Molding Division (SMD), all located in Erie, PA) made this project a top priority. After PED delivered the mold to the molding floor, Spectrum Engineering and Technical Services expedited the job through the sampling process.
Molding Manager Justin Denham and Assistant Molding Manager Logan Bower took on this additional project with little to no interruption to the day-to-day operations at SMD. Current molds were moved to other presses without setting back production. All materials used so far have been readily available at SMD, which also provided work that is keeping the current workforce employed as essential employees.
On April 1st, there was no joking around. GM Tom Hartline, Toolmaker Shawn Durfee and the team at Plastek’s Penn Erie Division got right to work, building a single-cavity mold. The team turned it around in 1.5 days, and then started testing on Friday, April 3rd.
According to Denham and Bower, “It is an honor to work for a company that is not only doing the best it can for their employees and families during these trying times but also going above and beyond to help local medical personnel and their families by promptly manufacturing a potentially lifesaving product.”
Employee Mask Production
On April 3, 2020, Plastek Corporate offices increased safety protocols to the next level: cloth mask production. Executive Administrator Brenda Jackson recruited Erie Plastek employees who were working from home to contribute to any step of making the cloth masks.
Continuing to practice social distancing during this project, 18 people were spread at least 6 feet apart at the corporate offices. Four employees picked up materials and worked from home. Even high school students and Plastek’s CEO chipped in to complete more than 300 handmade cloth masks. Employees donated two sewing machines, and Plastek purchased 55 yards of fabric, 30 yards of interfacing and 864 yards of elastic.
Project Manager, Mike Glotzbach says, “It's incredibly heartwarming to see the amount of energy and determination that everyone has been able to pull together to get a potential lifesaving project up and running so quickly.
The Plastek Team will continue to make these masks as required and donate them to all Plastek employees in Erie, North Carolina, Brazil, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. As the wearing of masks in public has recently changed from a non-necessity to a recommendation in low-risk exposure environments, Plastek has mandated that employees wear masks while at work starting Monday, April 13th.
The Plastek Group is honored to put in the time to meet this need. The team is optimistic about the difference these donations will make in the coming days. The company wants to share its capabilities with the heroes of today’s world and continue to pray for better times.
Mold manufacturers who have been critiqued for slow lead times, as compared to the overseas competition, are proving to themselves and customers during COVID-19 that North American mold manufacturers and suppliers can unite and do things at an extraordinary speed.
MoldMaking Technology’s Christina Fuges chats with some of the Haidlmair team—CEO Mario Haidlmair, Head of Corporate Communications Peter Peschl (Austria) and COO/Sales for Haidlmair NA Angelo Morra (Canada)—about a reusable mask project to help fight COVID-19 as well as the role of digital molds today.
In an effort to share solutions and strategies (and so you don’t feel alone), I wanted to share some conversations I’ve been having with mold builders as they continue their manufacturing amidst challenges brought about by the virus. Here is one Q&A with R & D Leverage.