NORTHBROOK, Ill.—Resin distributor M. Holland Co. has transformed a common area at its headquarters into a production room for medical masks during the COVID-19 crisis.
The Northbrook-based firm is using three 3D printers to make clear face masks from glycol-modified PET filament, 3D Printing Engineering Market Manager Haleyanne Freedman said in an April 23 interview with Plastics News.
"We took out tables and other furniture and surrounded the area with plastic sheet," she said. "The area is thoroughly cleaned every day."
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 response has been great," said Freedman, who earlier this year was named a Plastics News Rising Star for 2020. "We actually have more volunteers than we can use right now."
The volunteers attach filters and seals to the masks. M. Holland began mask production in mid-March and now can make 200 per week. Once completed, the masks are donated to local hospitals. The first shipment was sent to Decatur Memorial Hospital in Decatur, Ill.
"Most of us have family members who work in health care," Freedman said. "We care about them and wanted to do something to support them."
The printers being used for the mask work had been used for testing and part production for M. Holland's 3D printing unit, which supplies filament to 3D printing firms. The firm modified an open source file to make the masks, Freedman said.
M. Holland ranks as one of North America's largest resin distributors. The firm sells more than $1 billion in materials to more than 4,000 customers annually.