As the COVID-19 pandemic began sweeping across the country back in February and March of this year, it soon became apparent that America’s medical community was facing a potentially serious shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). Thankfully, certain factories across the U.S. — including some clients of Sure Tack Systems — began rising to the challenge early to accelerate the production of this critical equipment.
As a result, Sure Tack hot melt systems have been deployed on one of the most important fronts of the war against a deadly illness that has already claimed the lives of more than 100,000 Americans to date.
Outside Their Comfort Zone
In many cases, the companies that are now producing emergency PPE have had to completely convert their production lines and adapt to making products they were not accustomed to producing.
One such company, Mohawk Flooring in Calhoun, GA, revamped two of their facilities from making bathroom rugs to fabricating medical gowns over the course of a 10-day period. Since then, the company has utilized its Sure Tack hot melt systems to turn out hundreds of thousands of PPE products, including both medical gowns and plastic face shields.
Bart Hill, Senior Vice President of Product Development and Operations for Mohawk, tells Atlanta-based news organization 11Alive (WXIA) that making the transition to PPE was not in their wheelhouse, but that they felt compelled to do so.
“We had a fabric supplier with nothing to do with it,” he said. “I had a cut and sew facility with sewing expertise and the know-how to get these gowns together, and probably the third thing is the heart and want from all of our employees to say ‘let’s just figure out how to do it’…This is not something we had ever done before. We just tried to pivot into something that could help.”
The fabric supplier, Fabric Sources International (FSI), expresses a similar conviction that something needed to be done to address the need for PPE. Even before President Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act on a highly limited basis, FSI’s President Chris Simuro and CEO Matt Williams were contemplating how their company could help meet the growing demand.
“This is 25 times bigger than what we would have thought in the first few days because the need is that bad,” Simuro told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in early April.
Simuro and Williams surmised that one of their laminates would be ideal in the production of medical isolation gowns, and they even produced some viable prototypes — but they knew they needed to team up with another company in order to scale production. They partnered with Mohawk Flooring to do the cutting and sewing.
The first day of production, Mohawk produced 300 gowns. Once the process was in place, they quickly ramped up production ten-fold to produce at least 3000 garments per day.
How Hot Melt Systems Help with PPE Production
To provide health professionals and their patients the maximum amount of protection against microbes and pathogens like the Coronavirus, their protective wear needs to be moisture resistant, tear-resistant, and disposable.
Woven fabrics like cotton and cloth are porous and afford relatively little protection against viral transmission, although cloth masks can at least reduce the spread of contaminated droplets.
For the best protection, non-woven fabrics are the material of choice for medical-grade applications — and that’s where hot melt adhesives prove useful.
Hot melt adhesive has been a key ingredient for years in the production of many types of non-woven fabrics, including disposable diapers, household wipes, carpeting/upholstery, and medical products. Thus, when the need for emergency supplies of PPE came into view, it naturally followed that a company like Mohawk, which already utilizes hot melt in their normal manufacturing processes, would be tapped to meet the need.
About Sure Tack Systems
Sure Tack Systems takes the expediency of hot melt adhesives to the next level by offering a wide array of user-friendly application systems designed to make the product assembly process faster and easier for facilities.
From automatic extrusion and spray applicators to manual extrusion and inline spray handguns, from easy-to-use supply units to a wide range of hoses and accessories, Sure Tack has the industrial hot melt tools and components that facilities need to expedite production and assembly, whether you’re in the business of making mattresses, furniture, diapers or PPE.
We are pleased and honored to have been part of the solution for filling the demand for emergency PPE during these troubling times.
To learn more about the benefits of using hot melt gluer systems and how our team can help you configure a system that is perfect for your manufacturing and product assembly needs, give Sure Tack Systems a call today at 404.948.4812.