APEX, N.C.—As unprecedented efforts continue across the medical device manufacturing industry to produce personal protection equipment for the battle against the coronavirus, Polyzen Inc. has stepped up to offer engineering, design and manufacturing expertise for the most in-demand items.
The 100-employee company, which produces polymer-based components, materials and films for medical devices through a variety of manufacturing processes at its Apex facility, will produce protective gloves and assist in the development of face shields and other single-use disposables for those on the front lines—first responders, hospital workers and employees of other necessary health care facilities.
Polyzen is uniquely positioned to assist in these efforts, having assisted its customers with polymer solutions in the cardiac, GI and other life science spaces that have had a real-time impact on people's lives.
"It goes to our mission of creating products that positively impact lives," said Rubin Shah, co-CEO for sales and marketing at Polyzen. "This resonated with our whole organization, from the executive level to the shop floor."
Adept in material science, polymer processing and product development, Polyzen said it already has received requests for its medical-grade personal protective gloves, which boast durability, as well as resistance to leaks, punctures, abrasions and chemicals.
The gloves are fabricated using polyurethane, a material that is proving to be much-used against virus protection due to its exceptional barrier properties. Polyzen manufactures the gloves using its proprietary welding techniques and extrusion methods.
"We are getting a lot of requests for (polyurethane) glove liners, as well," Shah said.
Another pressing request from the medical industry has been for a polyurethane seal used in powered air purifying respirators, or PAPRs, which use a blower rather than lung power to draw air into a ventilator.
"So for us, we're hearing a lot of stuff about ventilated PAPR masks, and specifically a cuff that goes around the face mask to isolate the patient," Shah said.
In addition, Polyzen said it will work with other manufacturers, universities and the state of North Carolina to develop face shields, masks, ventilator bags and balloons, bed tents for patient transport, isolation units and other single-use products.
To produce the face shields, the clear visor is made using a polyurethane-PET film via injection molding, while the frame is 3D printed by other manufacturing partners in the process.
Other items—such as the bed tents and isolation chambers—have been produced using raw materials from Polyzen and processing contributions from other partners, including Duke University and North Carolina State University.
"As a contract manufacturer, we want to stay true to that, the idea of coming up with our own product," Shah said.
And the state of North Carolina has made that road easier for polymer product manufacturers and their customers, relaxing its regulations and required approvals for intrastate products, according to Shah.
"They have given the ability for medical sources to contract with any manufacturer in the state that they want to buy a product, such as our barrier-resistant gloves," Shah said. "And we have offered film and raw materials for the bed tents and isolation units, with which we've worked with Duke and N.C. State."
Shah added that Polyzen has diverted some of its employees from non-essential—or as a hospital might put it for a patient, "elective duties"—to produce PPE and other products to fight the coronavirus.
No layoffs or terminations have occurred because of the pandemic, Shah said.
"Workers who had other responsibilities have shifted duties," he said.
As the company ramped up production to meet demand in medical and related industries, Shah said Polyzen has been able to leverage its production experience.