A manufacturing company in the City of Tonawanda is ramping up production of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and first responders with the help of a statewide organization.
Innosek was founded a couple of years ago by three University at Buffalo graduates. The company specializes in additive manufacturing and project management.
Co-founder John Kappel says Innosek does 3-D printing in small batches for a variety of local manufacturers.
“People come to us to either get custom products custom pieces made, pretty much if you can think it, we can make it on a smaller scale before you go to mass production,” Kappel said.
When COVID-19 hit, the company decided to put its technology to use making parts for face shields, including the frame.
“The part that goes across the forehead would get 3-D printed, as well as some models had 3-D printed clips on it and various 3-D printed little pieces,” Kappel said.
An outside contractor supplies the clear plastic and the face shields are assembled in house. With PPE in high demand, Innosek was able to increase production 40% thanks to a small grant from New York’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program, known as FuzeHub. Its solutions director, Everton Henriques, says the organization could only provide $10,000 but, he says, the award was a good investment.
“To pick out nine printers and materials and stuff to change their production from say roughly 1,100 to 1,500 printed face shield frames, I think, is very significant to us, and so we went for it,” Henriques said.
To help meet demand, Kappel says the company doubled its staff by hiring five workers. A medical supply company bought the first large batch.
“We made excess and we've since donated roughly 500 face shields to local first responders,” Kappel said.