With the numbers of COVID-19 patients surging and the death toll rising, the current shortages of personal protective equipment for medical workers on the front line are extremely concerning. The lack of an adequate supply of everything from respirators and gloves to hand sanitizer, face shields and gowns poses a massive risk for anyone in daily contact with infected people. With only the barest minimum of protection, doing their work, as one doctor in the UK expressed it, is like “being sent to war, armed only with toy water pistols.”
The need for more of every kind of protective equipment has roused the plastics community and galvanized companies into action. One after the other, stories are coming in about how companies are converting production lines and donating supplies in an attempt to alleviate the shortages of, particularly, face masks, and to contribute in any way they can.
Here are a few of the latest:
PLA manufacturer Total Corbion is joining the fight against the Coronavirus by donating 5 tons of Luminy PLA resin to the Smart Materials 3D initiative in Spain for the production of 3D printed medical devices and protective equipment. Smart Materials 3D will produce PLA filament from the donated resin and, in co-creation with, among other volunteers, Fixit, 3D Printers, IMBIC and Clone Wars VLL, use these to print medical masks and protective equipment. The PLA resin donated by Total Corbion will be used to produce and distribute over 125.000 masks to health centres and hospitals across Spain.
RadiciGroup will donate the first 5,000 gowns to Papa Giovanni XIII hospital in Bergamo, Italy as soon as possible. The company’s nonwovens business unit set up a project in collaboration with local companies – ‘who promptly came on board,’ said Angelo Radici, president of RadiciGroup - to establish production chain to make protective equipment for medical personnel. “Producing high-performance materials is routine for us,” he pointed out. 10,000 metres of fabric, laminated with a breathable, antimicrobial plastic film produced by local company Plastik SpA is already available.
The material underwent testing for medical use and validation at Centrocot in Varese. Now approved, the first 5,000 gowns have been produced. After supplying the Bergamo hospital,
medical associations, hospitals and other healthcare organizations in need are welcome to apply to RadiciGroup.
Moreover, Radici Plastics Suzhou, a RadiciGroup company based in Jiangsu Province in China, has joined a fund- raising drive promoted by the Italian community in Shanghai to send Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo over 20,000 masks and other medical devices. This equipment has already arrived at its destination.