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Supplier Stories for the Week of March 29

Here’s what was new in the world of medical device suppliers during the week of March 29, with many suppliers responding to needs in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Esys Automation, a JR Automation company

    Esys Automation, a JR Automation company, was asked by General Motors (GM) to build in less than one week a line for producing face masks to aid in the response to COVID-19. The line would run in GM's Warren, MI cleanroom.

    Esys and JR Automation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., put together a plan that consisted of:

    • JR Automation's engineering and build teams in Nashville and Holland providing input and expertise with Esys Automation.
    • JR Automation's in-house machining and fabrication department designing and building customized machinery to assemble the masks.
    • Controls and mechanical engineering teams working with the supply chain team throughout JR Automation to secure all components, despite many supply chains disrupted by the crisis.

    The line, which is capable of producing 50,000 masks a day, was built in six days, enabling GM produced their first mask in response to the COVID-19 crisis on Friday, March 27.

    "JR Automation is truly honored to partner with customers like General Motors to help combat this pandemic and support our dedicated medical workers on the front lines every day. With the best customers, automation services, and talent in the world, we can and will continue to push innovation forward, no matter the need. Other teams across JR Automation are already gearing up to provide automation solutions for other essential items in response to this crisis," the company stated in a news release.

    JR Automation provides intelligent automated manufacturing and technology solutions for customers in the life sciences and other industries. Esys Automation, a JR Automation company, is a full-service automation solutions provider, specializing in vehicle assembly applications.

    [Image courtesy of JR Automation]

    Esys Automation, a JR Automation company
  • Delve

    Delve is offering an open-source face shield design on its Web site. Jesse Darley, Delve's director of mechanical engineering and principal, explained in a blog that Delve, Midwest Prototyping, and University of Wisconsin-Madison Makerspace adapted a face shield design used at the University of Wisconsin hospital. They found affordable and available bulk materials at McMaster-Carr, and Midwest Prototyping set up an assembly line to make as many shields as possible to serve the local community.

    "Delve is providing this drawing of the design for anyone to use," wrote Darley. "We hope you can use this design to build local supplies for your hospitals.

    "If you are a maker space, a light manufacturer, or just a handy family, this may be a way for you to give back," he added.

    Formerly Design Concepts, Delve offers the following capabilities:

    • Business Design 
    • Design Insights & Strategy
    • Electrical Engineering
    • Human Factors Engineering
    • Industrial Design
    • Interaction Design
    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Prototype Development
    • Service Design
    • Visual Communication 

    [Image courtesy of DELVE]

  • IMI Precision Engineering has adapted its Switzerland-based manufacturing capability to meet the urgent requirement for more ventilator units. The company produces the IMI FAS FLATPROP valve, an essential component that delivers high-precision proportional flow control to enable the precise control of very low or high flow rates, IMI Precision Engineering explained in a news release.

    “The current demand for ventilation solutions from worldwide healthcare systems has put pressure on all parts of the supply chain," stated Martin Maas, managing director of fluid technology EMEA, in a news release. "The IMI FAS FLATPROP valve is an important component within the ventilator.  As such we are working in partnership with ventilator manufacturers on an international basis to ensure we speedily supply the valves they need to help save lives. Our teams are working extremely hard to rapidly adapt our manufacturing capabilities so that we can meet this critical need. The flexibility demonstrated by our committed and skilled workforce, allied to our production abilities, means we are confident we can help play our part in delivering what is required during these challenging times.” 

    IMI Precision Engineering  acquired special status from the Swiss authorities to undertake extended hours of production of the IMI FAS FLATPROP valve during the week and over the weekend, the company stated.

    [Image courtesy IMI Precision Engineering]

  • Primex Plastics Corp. has engaged its three divisions to produce vital materials for first responders and medical professionals in the fight against the COVID-19 virus. President Mike Cramer “made it clear to our groups to expend every effort to support our communities and the country in these demanding times,” Doug Borgsdorf, business unit director, explained in a news release.

    Primex Color, Compounding, & Additives developed and started manufacturing a compound In less than 24 hours for use in producing plastic vials for COVID-19 test kits, and Primex’s extrusion division is producing clear plastic sheet needed to manufacture face shields. And in just two days, in conjunction with Richmond’s Reid Health, Primex Design & Fabrication (PDF) designed and began producing replacement face shields for Reid’s bio helmets (see photo) that protect clinical staff. Borgsdorf said Primex is getting numerous requests from other hospitals and health systems and is now on track to make more than 100,000 shields.

    "This time is not about business. It is a time of unity," Darin Dubbs, director of human resources at Primex, said in the release. "Our ability to help in the crisis has been uplifting to the employees at Primex.”

    Added Borgsdorf: “All three divisions of Primex stepped up quickly and demonstrated their ability to solve problems. It’s times like these that our employees show their true colors. We’re proud to be engaged in the fight against this terrible virus.”


  • Specialty Silicone Products

    Specialty Silicone Products (SSP) has received an order for EMI/RFI shielding elastomers that will be used to produce EMI gaskets for ventilators. SSP’s EMI/RFI shielding elastomers use silicone or fluorosilicone as the base material and are filled with metallic or metal-coated particles. According to a company spokesperson, they combine reliable electrical conductivity with dependable protection against electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency (RFI), disturbances that can disrupt the performance of medical electronics.


    Specialty Silicone Products
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