Some car audio fabricators are being deluged with requests by hospitals to produce face shields to protect against COVID-19.
Dozens of dealers are now producing shields, but for every 100 they make, they’ll get a request for as many as 1000. Now these retailers can barely keep up with demand, as well as the costs of production and they are in need of funding.
As of last week, dealers we polled were producing about 3,000 shields. This week, they are expected to make over 10,000.
One dealer wrote on Facebook, “We’re overwhelmed with requests. I could move 1,000 tomorrow. Most are happy with anything, but still going to have to turn a ton away.”
What began as an effort by Jeremy Katz of JK Automotive Designs, MA to keep his staff employed by producing face shields, has inspired an industry-wide effort to bring face shields to hospitals.
An average face shield costs about $3.20 to produce, according to Ken Ward of Educar Training. So an order of 1,200 shields requires over $3,600 in materials. JT Torres of Automotive Entertainment in Southern CA was producing the shields for local hospitals but now has orders from Chicago and Northern CA hospitals and so his expenses now include packaging and shipping. To help fill an order for 1,000 face shields for a Sacramento hospital, Andy Wehmeyer of AudioFrog, visited Torres’ shop over the weekend and devised a way to to ship the face shields unassembled in individual kits with assembly instructions.
Some dealers are turning to GoFundMe campaigns. Here’s one by Jeremy Katz who is now producing shields for NY hospitals as well as his local MA hospitals. He is sharing the funds with others producing masks including Jeremy Carlson of Avant Garde Design, FL. That campaign had raised over $8,600 as of Sunday afternoon.
But other retailers, require donations. Ward is trying to help fund JT Torres’ order. Gary Bell of Define Concepts, CA is helping Torres with production, while Torres has switched over to acquiring the materials. The two alone will need about $10,000 for materials and shipping. Their time is donated. Ward is requesting donations also in the form of Uline catalog packaging materials to assist them. To help Torres and Bell, email Ward at [email protected]
The need for these shields is staggering, but hopefully temporary.
Wehmeyer, helped drop off 50 face shields produced by Torres to a hospital in Glendale. He said, “I delivered a trash bag full. The hospital didn’t have anything [in face protective wear]. The guy came out and he’s crying because someone is giving them life saving equipment they can’t get.”
As Ward noted,”I have friends who are in purchasing for hospitals. It’s a long painful process for procurement because it is set up to extract any profit out of it. That process doesn’t pivot well into getting something instantly.”
He added, “I figure, in a few weeks, the supply chains will have caught up and this [crunch] will be over. But, in the meantime…”
Katz and his employee Evan Collins, who came up with the laser cutter design used by many of the dealers to produce the shields, is on his third refinement, which is speeding up production even further.
Torres might be able to get funding from the Sacramento hospital once he delivers the first 200 face shields and they prove to be up to spec. Again, in the meantime, there is an urgent need for funding. Suppliers, distributors, and retailers, please donate through Ken Ward. Email [email protected]
Here’s just one more testimonial to that need.
A hospital worker sent Torres this text:
“Honestly, thank you so much for your heart. The hospital literally gave us one pair of safety goggles to share between all the nurses. We were told to wipe them down with sanitizer, let it dry for one minute and then let the next person use it.
All the nurses today, were so excited to be able to use their own shields and be protected. Because of your shields, were able to do more for the patients who need us the most because we are protected.
Just to give you an idea of how much your items impacted us my family cried when I showed them my picture with my coworkers and my mom wants me to say “God bless you JT and team”
My coworkers husband cried when he saw his wife with the shield on, because he’s been so worried about her safety. (He’s a big burly retired police office who never cries).
All coworkers hugged me because they were so excited and happy for their gifts.”
We focused on Torres in this article because of Ward’s efforts to fund his production. We know that others need funding as well. Please post links to any other GoFundMe campaigns for 12 volt production of face shields in the comment section.
And now for our favorite, Derrick Izuka 3D printing masks in Hawaii.
Here are some other industry members producing face shields:
John Schwartz, Perfectionist Auto Sound, AK
Marty Deane, Soundz Plus, IL
Matt Schaeffer, Sound FX, DE
Adam Devine, Devine Concepts, FL
Kent Izuka Security & Sound Systems, HI
Milton Benavides, Speed of Sound Technology, CT
Mike Hungerford, Kartele, CT
Carlos Ramirez, NVS Audio, NJ
Brandon Green, MO
Mike Bartells, Extreme audio, VA
Ethan Blau, Sound Wave Customs, VA
Bryan Schmitt, Mobile Solutions, AZ
Photo: JT Torres (front right) and crew, practicing social distancing.