Ohio Molder Joins Statewide Consortium to Combat Covid-19
Pragmatic Manufacturing put its new Wittmann Battenfeld molding cells to work as part of an effort to produce and deliver more than 1 million face shields for front-line health care workers in Ohio in just five weeks.
Back when custom molder Pragmatic Manufacturing (Brunswick, Oh.) commissioned the two complete molding cells, including auxiliaries and robotics, from Wittmann Battenfeld it likely didn’t think some of the first parts they’d make would be for personal protective equipment in the face of a global pandemic.
Deemed essential but with other business temporarily seizing up, Pragmatic became part of a network of 1500 Ohio manufacturers that volunteered to produce urgently needed protective equipment for frontline workers fighting Covid-19.
Pragmatic customer MTD Products Co. (Valley City, Oh.) had built a mold to producing headbands for face shield parts and needed a molder. Pragmatic picked up the two-cavity mold from MTD on a Wednesday afternoon, and after working all night to get it up and running on its newly installed Wittmann Battenfeld SmartPower 110 machine, the company was molding approved parts the next day.
From left to right: Jason Tichy, Managing Director; Scott Klem, Operations Manager; and Mike Marino, Controller at Pragmatic Manufacturing.
MTD had been contacted by the Cleveland-based Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET) to build the tool. On April 1, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine put out a state-wide call for manufacturers to help fight the pandemic. MAGNET is part of the public-private partnership called the Ohio Manufacturing Alliance to Fight COVID-19, which formed with the ambitious goal to produce and deliver more than 1 million face shields for front-line health care workers in Ohio, in just five weeks.
Scott Klem, Operations Manager at Pragmatic, said his company is currently molding more than 10,000 parts per day, with the press running 24/7. Finished parts are sent to toy-maker Little Tikes Co. (Hudson, Oh.)—also part of MAGNET—which is repackaging them into face shield kits that it sends to a central location in Ohio where the kits are distributed directly to hospitals around the state.
Wittmann Battenfeld, working from video of production, was actually able to remotely review and improve the molding process for Pragmatic. The cell’s Wittmann W821 robot features Smart Removal, which allows programming of the robot for optimal cycle time. Wittmann evaluated the video and made some adjustments designed to speed up the robot’s operation. An updated program was sent to Pragmatic, which then uploaded it to the SmartPower molding machine’s B8 control system. Ultimately, a full second was cut from the process.
“This Should Have Been Impossible”
On the consortium’s website, Ethan Karp, President & CEO of MAGNET commented on the agility Ohio’s manufacturing industry showed in this project. “We went from an idea to a prototype to building a new local supply chain to production in less than two weeks,” Karp said. “This should have been impossible, but we got it done. It truly shows what our industry is capable of.”
Karp said the group decided to utilize injection molding and plastic because it represented “the best and safest option for clinical use because it’s durable and easy to sanitize.” In the end, 19 companies came together on the project:
Acro Tool and Die (now Metalcraft Solutions); Classic Laminations; Die-cut Products Co.; Eaton; Esterle Mold and Machine; Evenflo; GSH Industries; HP Manufacturing; ITEN Industries Inc.; Kent Displays Inc.; Little Tikes; MTD Products Inc.; Ottawa Rubber Company; Pragmatic Manufacturing LLC.; Premier Seals Manufacturing; Professional Plastics; Talent Tool and Die, Thogus Products; and Trifecta Tool & Engineering.
Face shield parts being removed from the mold by a Wittmann W821 robot. The mold is being run in a Wittmann Battenfeld SmartPower 110 molding machine.