As the new normal for businesses around the U.S. became fabricating personal protective equipment, the marine fabrication community stepped up. Carl Pellegrini, owner of SeaCanvas, Egg Harbor Township, N.J., spent several weeks this spring making and donating face shields to 10 local police and fire departments using materials on-hand such as O’Sea Regalite .040 sheet vinyl, Block-It® Matrix fabric from Kimberly-Clark and foam. “Every police department was super appreciative of our program. We supplied our face shields in a custom bag with the shields divided by paper sleeves. Our Eastman cutter was able to cut 40 shields in four minutes.”
Megan Hallett, general manager of Hallett Canvas and Sails of Falmouth, Maine, says her family’s shop pivoted to face masks by repurposing Evolution® Block-It fabric, leech line for straps and barrel locks for strap tighteners. “We were able to produce mass quantities instantly with the use of our 40-foot Autometrix cutting table.” The shop has been selling and donating thousands of masks up and down the East Coast. Hallett says their efforts have provided jobs for the existing staff as well as family members furloughed from outside positions. “We were able to quickly pivot and help not just those in need of masks, but those in need of jobs!”
Chris Ritsema, owner of Canvas Innovations, Holland, Mich., wanted to leverage his company’s automated cutting capabilities to help the largest number of people. “I knew that as a company we were limited as to how many masks we could make, so I started thinking outside the box.” He joined forces with a childhood friend who was finalizing the nonprofit Anchor Rock Foundation. Together they launched a social media campaign that drew volunteers from across the community to make and distribute masks to nursing homes and assisted living and hospice facilities.
Canvas Innovations organized production, cut all the parts, and created sewing instructions and videos for the volunteers. Anchor Rock Foundation managed volunteers and donations. “Our goal,” says Ritsema, “was to make 40,000 masks. By the end of April, we had orders for over 50,000.”