“I talk to Glenn and Rich about every day, and I’ve never met them in person. It’s mostly about handling supply chain and fabrication issues, because we’re all working toward the same goal,” Grace said. “We’re using some of the same raw materials, so there’s been a lot of collaboration on that.”
Walters says that the universities’ shared efforts have resulted in ongoing coordination of logistics. “I have been in daily contact with Landon in support of their work on CAPR and intubation shields,” says Walters. “We have been routing clear plastic stock to their efforts and have been having one component of their intubation shield fabricated and delivered to them.”
Grace says that the process of designing and securing materials to create the face shields has diverged from what he and his Carolina colleagues typically encounter.
“One of the things that’s different about this situation than the normal design process is that typically we would specify the materials and the dimensions that we need, and we would order it and wait two or three weeks for it to come in. We can’t do that here,” said Grace, noting that the coronavirus crisis requires working on a compressed schedule and adapting to rapidly changing supply chain realities. “So, it’s hearing from Glenn that we might be able to get 0.02” thick PETG out of Tennessee by Wednesday and ‘Can you change your design to accommodate that? Because we can’t get the 0.03” stock that your current design calls for.’ And so it’s working a little bit backwards based on the supply.”
Walters, who’s been working to design Carolina’s face shield and find vendors who can supply the proper materials in sufficient quantities within a matter of days or weeks, appreciates the collaborative spirit of Grace and his team.
Grace echoes the appreciation shared by Superfine and Walters, noting their work on scouting new avenues for materials. “Those guys have been instrumental in reaching out all across the country to help us find what we need,” he said.
And the win-win of the institutions working in concert goes beyond cracking supply chain challenges, says Superfine. By combining their shared medical and engineering expertise and exchanging insights, both institutions are moving faster to create PPE products that will better serve the end users – health care workers serving on the front line to treat COVID-19 patients.
“Landon has been amazing in stepping up. He has been talking with UNC doctors and taking on the challenges they’ve presented to him,” said Superfine, noting the sophistication of design and engineering talent that the NC State team applies when building PPE products that address the medical needs described by Carolina physicians. “Engineers build stuff, and those guys are great at it.”