#CountOnUs: Printing companies in Brazil help produce face protection gear for healthcare professionals treating COVID-19 patients
The new coronavirus has mobilized several sectors of society to seek solutions to mitigate the problems caused by the pandemic. In Curitiba (the capital and largest city in the Brazilian state of Paraná), doctors, professors, designers, engineers and executives of the printing industry came together to create and mass produce a face protection gear coined Face Shield, in addition to protective glasses. The reusable products made of plastic are being donated to the State Department of Health, which is distributing the products across the entire state of Paraná to healthcare professionals, law enforcement officers, municipal guards and other sectors.
According to Dalton Alexandre Kay, one of the project coordinators and engineering professor of the PUC-PR Polytechnical School, it all began with a WhatsApp group created at the university by professionals of a crisis committee to help mitigate the impacts caused by the disease. “We created a multidisciplinary team and discussed what we could do to help. We immediately noticed the lack of personal protective equipment for healthcare professionals. After lots of tests and prototypes, we developed here at PUC the face shield and protective glasses, in accordance with health surveillance requirements and validated by professionals of the Cajuru and Marcelino Champagnat hospitals, in Curitiba.”
Upscaling production using cutting and creasing machines
According to the professor, the products are made of acetate and were being laser-cut at the university’s labs. However, the output was very slow, especially because they had to clean the laser-cut edges, which kept them from scaling production.
PUC-PR professor, Dalton Kai, showing the Face Shield that he and other professionals from different areas created with the help of printing companies to help mitigate the dissemination of the new coronavirus.
An alternative would be to use cutting and creasing machines available in some printing companies. Based on his good relationship with Sigep/Abigraf-PR (Trade Association of Printing Industries of the State of Paraná and Brazilian Printing Industry Association – Abigraf, Paraná Division), for being a jury of the Paraná Printing Excellence Award Oscar Schrappe Sobrinho for many years, Dalton Kai reached out to them. “We asked for their help to contact business owners who could supply materials, cutting and creasing. They were more than willing to help.”
Kai explains that two printing companies, Belton and Corgraf, immediately stepped up to the plate. Belton donated materials and Corgraf centralized all production efforts. “To give you an idea of just how important this help was, at the university we were able to produce 280 face shields in two days. At Corgraf, we can make almost a thousand in just one hour.
At the university we were able to produce 280 face shields in two days. At Corgraf, we can make almost a thousand in just one hour.
In addition, we’re expecting a new shipment of raw materials for the new production batch at Corgraf over the next few days,” he said, pointing out that professor Aguilar Selhorst, from the Fine Arts School of PUC, and Willian Souza, PUC’s Labmaker technical expert, also contributed to the project.
A time for empathy
Corgraf has used all of the required infrastructure to centralize prompt and large-scale production of face shields and protective glasses. According to the CEO, Vicente Linares, now is the time for everyone to pitch in as best as they can. “We all empathize with this hardship the entire world is going through right now. If each of us contributes within their own area and based on their own conditions, we can help many others. When I found out about their need and realized we had the infrastructure to help, we decided to embrace this cause, along with other partners.”
By the first week of April, Linares said they had already manufactured 3,500 face shields and glasses, with the company covering all related costs. Despite reducing its operation to 30% of capacity due to the crisis, Linares states that they will continue making these items for as long as it takes. “We will continue to make these products for as long as necessary. We also rely on the support of other printing industries, donating materials, and we will continue to work together to help mitigate the impact of this pandemic.”
We will continue to make these products for as long as necessary. We also rely on the support of other printing industries, donating materials, and we will continue to work together to help mitigate the impact of this pandemic.”
Corgraf’s CEO stated that the company has also started to contribute in other areas, such as printing leaflets detailing safety protocols for Covid-19, distributed among the districts.
According to the CEO of Belton, Luciano Szurmiak, the company was immediately ready to help, since they already had the raw materials and the cutting and creasing machine. “But talking to Vicente, from Corgraf, we decided to centralize all of the work at his company. I provided the materials I had here and he did the work”.
Szurmiak added that these are very troubled times indeed, seeing as he had to lay off some of his workers, but that even so there is always a way to help others and learn from adversity. “These kinds of situations show us that we can always help out and constantly learn. These face shields were developed by the university, but they could have very well been created by the printing companies themselves, seeing as we’re fully qualified to do so.”
Ótima Gráfica also donated raw materials for the project created by PUC. According to the CEO, Erasto Farias, the request came at the right time. “We were optimizing spaces here at the company and realized that we had all of this material that was not being used. That was precisely when professor Dalton contacted us. Since we don’t have a cutting and creasing machine, we forwarded it to Maxi Gráfica and made this chain of solidarity even bigger. I always say that those in need must reach out and those who have plenty must help. That brings us happiness.”
According to Farias, Ótima hasn’t really felt the impact of the crisis so far, due to the style of its portfolio. “We don’t take overnight orders. Our creations, such as notebooks and other finished items, have a large-scale production schedule in the first half of the year and are stored for sales in the second half. For now, we’re pretty much at the same work pace as usual, despite putting some of our elderly and diabetic employees on leave.”
First batch of face shields manufactured by the printing companies delivered at the Paraná State Department of Health.
Maxi Gráfica also pitched in by donating labor to cut masks: “Honestly, I think it’s the least our company can do for society. Times like these are a call to action and we must all share the burden,” said the sales manager, Anibal Mesquita.
Source: Sigep/Abigraf-PR (Trade Association of the Printing Industries of the State of Parana, Brazil and Brazilian Printing Industry Association – Abigraf – Paraná Division)