A Buffalo-based business is helping companies locally and across the nation ramp up production of disposable masks and other personal protective equipment.
Eastman Machine on Washington Street near Goodell Street makes automated fabric cutting machines used in various industries including aerospace, marine, textiles and wind energy. When the coronavirus hit, Eastman President and CEO Robert Stevenson says customers from across the United States and around the world started requesting help changing their machines over to make medical masks and other PPE.
"We provided them with patterns, CAD patterns, computerized drawings, so they can convert their machines. We can't supply the material but we can certainly provide the know how of how to make these medical products gowns, booties, medical masks, face shields, etc.,” Stevenson said.
As an example, Stevenson says a t-shirt manufacturer in North Carolina is now making surgical gowns and a company in Utah switched from making skis to face shields. A company in Niagara Falls has gone from making awnings and patio covers to cutting fabric for surgical style masks.
Eric Winstanley with Custom Covers and Canvas on Military Road says he is also experimenting with a new hole punch tool for their machine so they can make clear plastic face shields.
“Any product that we could make or help is something that we're going to do. It just so happens to be, you know, this is an ever changing event that's just every day seems to be different. Last week, it was surgical masks. This week it's plastic shields and I can't wait to see what happens next week.” Winstanley said.
Under the law Custom Covers and Canvas was deemed non-essential and the company was forced to close. As a result all of its employees have been laid off. But Winstanley says he and another man are volunteering their time to give back to the community.