News

Redwood City company shifts operations to make face shields for hospitals

Carbon now focuses exclusively on products relating to pandemic

Before the coronavirus pandemic rocked the world, Carbon used its printing technology to crank out midsoles for Adidas shoes, helmets for Ridell and dental dentures.

In late March, the Redwood City-based designer and 3D printer made a sharp pivot to assist the region in responding to COVID-19: it has designed and is preparing to manufacture thousands of face shields that hospital workers need to test and treat coronavirus patients.

Within weeks, the company expects to produce more than 15,000 face shields through its 3D printers, with the goal of distributing to area hospitals based on demand.

According to the company, Carbon has already received positive feedback on its product from Stanford Health Care and Kaiser Permanente.

"We are focused on how we can support the first responders and medical professionals who are on the frontline, tirelessly working to save those lives threatened by this pandemic," Carbon's President and CEO Ellen Kullman said in an emailed statement. "We are grateful to all of the partners, customers, and institutions who are working alongside us, leveraging the power of additive manufacturing to combat COVID-19."

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With the move, Carbon has joined a growing roster of companies, both in the region and across the nation, that are revamping their operations to assist health care workers. The list includes Bloom Energy, which has been revamping old ventilators to make them functional, and Ford Motors, which is manufacturing new ventilators in partnership with GE Healthcare.

Carbon's operations in California are now focusing exclusively on products related to the pandemic. In addition to making the face shields, Carbon is leveraging its network of customers to encourage others to step up. Shortly after deciding to shift to face shields, the company had a webinar with more than 300 customers and partners to discuss the project. It has made the design open-source and available on its website. One of its dental customers, Candid, has already diverted its manufacturing operation to make face shields, with the goal of protecting thousands of them in the next few weeks.

The effort by Carbon and its partners is accelerating at a time when the Bay Area is preparing for a surge of COVID-19 cases and when other parts of the nations, including New York and Michigan, have seen their hospitals overwhelmed by a wave of coronavirus patients. In some cases, hospitals have reported a critical shortage of personal protective equipment, including N95 masks, gowns and face shields.

While the Bay Area hasn't reached its hospital capacity yet, hospitals and health care systems are growing concerned about the national shortage of personal protective equipment and have recently requested donations from residents and companies in anticipation of possible shortages down the road.

Carbon believes it can help. Across its global network of manufacturing partners, it plans to make more than 18,000 face shields in the first week – a number it expects to "grow considerably as production scales," according to a company statement.

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In addition to making face shields, Carbon is also trying to increase the testing capacity for COVID-19 by creating patient sampling swabs. The company has already produced at least 10 different swab designs, some of which are now undergoing clinical evaluation, according to the company's statement. It is working with various medical institutions, including Stanford Medical Center and the Harvard Medical School/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, to evaluate these designs, according to the company.

Are you a tech worker whose company is readapting operations in response to the coronavirus crisis? Tell us how over an email to editor@paweekly.com.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Redwood City company shifts operations to make face shields for hospitals

Carbon now focuses exclusively on products relating to pandemic

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Apr 2, 2020, 9:56 am

Before the coronavirus pandemic rocked the world, Carbon used its printing technology to crank out midsoles for Adidas shoes, helmets for Ridell and dental dentures.

In late March, the Redwood City-based designer and 3D printer made a sharp pivot to assist the region in responding to COVID-19: it has designed and is preparing to manufacture thousands of face shields that hospital workers need to test and treat coronavirus patients.

Within weeks, the company expects to produce more than 15,000 face shields through its 3D printers, with the goal of distributing to area hospitals based on demand.

According to the company, Carbon has already received positive feedback on its product from Stanford Health Care and Kaiser Permanente.

"We are focused on how we can support the first responders and medical professionals who are on the frontline, tirelessly working to save those lives threatened by this pandemic," Carbon's President and CEO Ellen Kullman said in an emailed statement. "We are grateful to all of the partners, customers, and institutions who are working alongside us, leveraging the power of additive manufacturing to combat COVID-19."

With the move, Carbon has joined a growing roster of companies, both in the region and across the nation, that are revamping their operations to assist health care workers. The list includes Bloom Energy, which has been revamping old ventilators to make them functional, and Ford Motors, which is manufacturing new ventilators in partnership with GE Healthcare.

Carbon's operations in California are now focusing exclusively on products related to the pandemic. In addition to making the face shields, Carbon is leveraging its network of customers to encourage others to step up. Shortly after deciding to shift to face shields, the company had a webinar with more than 300 customers and partners to discuss the project. It has made the design open-source and available on its website. One of its dental customers, Candid, has already diverted its manufacturing operation to make face shields, with the goal of protecting thousands of them in the next few weeks.

The effort by Carbon and its partners is accelerating at a time when the Bay Area is preparing for a surge of COVID-19 cases and when other parts of the nations, including New York and Michigan, have seen their hospitals overwhelmed by a wave of coronavirus patients. In some cases, hospitals have reported a critical shortage of personal protective equipment, including N95 masks, gowns and face shields.

While the Bay Area hasn't reached its hospital capacity yet, hospitals and health care systems are growing concerned about the national shortage of personal protective equipment and have recently requested donations from residents and companies in anticipation of possible shortages down the road.

Carbon believes it can help. Across its global network of manufacturing partners, it plans to make more than 18,000 face shields in the first week – a number it expects to "grow considerably as production scales," according to a company statement.

In addition to making face shields, Carbon is also trying to increase the testing capacity for COVID-19 by creating patient sampling swabs. The company has already produced at least 10 different swab designs, some of which are now undergoing clinical evaluation, according to the company's statement. It is working with various medical institutions, including Stanford Medical Center and the Harvard Medical School/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, to evaluate these designs, according to the company.

Are you a tech worker whose company is readapting operations in response to the coronavirus crisis? Tell us how over an email to editor@paweekly.com.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Comments

Anonymous
Downtown North
on Apr 2, 2020 at 11:59 am
Anonymous, Downtown North
on Apr 2, 2020 at 11:59 am
9 people like this

Thank goodness for companies like Carbon who step up to fill the need in the void left by Presidential delay and mismanagement! I salute their ingenuity and good citizenship!


LosAltosDoc
Los Altos
on Apr 2, 2020 at 12:09 pm
LosAltosDoc, Los Altos
on Apr 2, 2020 at 12:09 pm
1 person likes this

It is small, agile high tech companies like this that can tool up quickly to make health care products that are compatible with their core technologies. In this case, face masks. In other cases, other items of protective gear.

As for ventilators, the US govt is insane to be looking at dinosaur companies like Ford and GM to make them. They're far too big and far too inflexible. They don't make parts, they assemble cars from components made for them by subcontractors in the auto parts industry. The USA should be looking for agile auto parts and other industrial parts suppliers whose skills and engineering talent align well with making ventilators.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 2, 2020 at 1:47 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 2, 2020 at 1:47 pm
2 people like this

Posted by LosAltosDoc, a resident of Los Altos

>> The USA should be looking for agile auto parts and other industrial parts suppliers whose skills and engineering talent align well with making ventilators.

BBC News had a clip about some guys (in Italy I think?) who devised a way to use 3D printers to create a part of a makeshift ventilator system. They published the 3D printer program on some maker websites somewhere for people to use for free.

If anyone knows anything more about that, or, what is in the lead article here, or other instances, please post.


@anon
Los Altos
on Apr 2, 2020 at 5:45 pm
@anon, Los Altos
on Apr 2, 2020 at 5:45 pm
2 people like this

Saw that article and it was really, really neat stuff!!! That was the kind of innovation I was referring to. It's what engineers admiringly would call "a great engineering solution". Brilliant, simple, and cheap-and-dirty".

Saw one other article online, possibly at the Palo Alto Times, or maybe the Murky News. I'll see if I can find a link. A tech company somewhere in the Bay Area has pivoted rapidly from solar cells to repairing and updating defective or outdated ventilators. As I remember, when the US gross-mis-Govt started releasing its warehoused stockpile of ventilators, many of them either were obsolete in need of update or were warehoused because they were defective!!! Also, many hospitals have a lot of mothballed respirators with similar simple issues. What the company is gearing up to do is to take these useless ventilators and make minor repairs and/or updates to them so that they can be used to fight Covid-19. That's what I mean by agility and engineering expertise, and desire to do great work and not just acceptable work.

Found a link. It's not the original BBC article, which I also saw, and I'm sure there are others.

Web Link.

Cheers! "The old order changeth, yielding place to new --- "


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 3, 2020 at 10:37 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 3, 2020 at 10:37 am
Like this comment

I found a different article about the Italian design. This article, in Forbes, sounds a bit different than what I originally heard. Still, I hope this is one of many such responses:

Web Link


Bingo
Professorville
on Apr 3, 2020 at 12:35 pm
Bingo, Professorville
on Apr 3, 2020 at 12:35 pm
2 people like this

Here’s a link about others who have designed plastic ventilators (under $200 each) and posted the free instructions online.
Saw the story on NBC Today Show this morning.

Web Link


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