RUSSELLS POINT — An Indian Lake-area company, World Class Plastics, has started production of new Personal Protection Equipment. It now produces the “hey dont touch your face” face shield.
Like so many companies supplying products to the automotive industry, this plastics company has experienced significant economic pain from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Within a matter of a few days, this small company went from a booming economy, the best year the company ever had, to virtually no orders.
“Seemingly overnight in March of 2020, our sales dropped by over 80%, and we found ourselves in fear of losing our company and the inability to employ our workforce,” said Steve Buchenroth, owner of World Class Plastics.
World Class Plastics was founded in 1994 by Buchenroth, Scott Wisniewski and Neil Schroer and produced its first product in September of 1994.
The company’s first projects as a start-up in 1994 were the production of clips and fasteners for the automotive industry. Buchenroth and Wisniewski still own the company today.
“We employ about 100 people now and consider our associates to be an extended family and our most valuable resource.” added David Wisniewski, vice president of engineering and research and development. “We are a small business in Russells Point, Ohio, doing custom injection molding, light assembly, and some decorating. Our customers are from the automotive, industrial, aerospace, and dental supply businesses.”
It all started just about a month ago on Sunday, March 30, when Buchenroth listened to an interview with New York physician Dr. David Price on the Fox News show “Watters’ World.” Dr. Price, of Weill Cornell Medical Center and Jesse Watters, left Steve with a very important safety message, “DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE!”
Looking at the prospect of a growing pandemic, the shortage of personal protection equipment and the wisdom from Dr. Price, Buchenroth called his co-owner of World Class Plastics, Scott Wisniewski, that night and they agreed to immediately take on the task of designing and making face shields and face masks.
“Our motivation was to replace lost business so we could get as many associates back on the job as soon as possible, and generally to be of service to our community,” stated David Wisniewski.
The very next day, on March 31, after sharing this information with several team members, a prototype of a face shield was designed, and a 3D model printed that day. After a few more design changes and more 3D prototypes, the team’s face shield design was completed.
One day later, the tooling department began the process of building an injection mold with no time to waste.
“The management, engineering, and tooling teams decided to first develop a face shield and get it into mass production via injection molding as fast as we could,” Wisniewski said.
“Many face shields were being produced around the country by 3D printing, but we wanted to do something that would increase output by over 100 times compared to 3D printing because the need was so great. Plus, an injection-molded part is stronger and much more durable than a 3D-printed part,” Wisniewski said.
After an amazing amount of effort from the tooling department, the new tool was completed and polished by 8 p.m. Thursday, April 2, and production could begin.
On April 3, days after Buchenroth came up with the idea from watching a TV news show, the newly built injection mold (tool) was installed into a press at 8 a.m., and production began.
“The tool not only ran perfectly, but it ran faster than our predicted cycle, allowing us to produce 70,000 pieces per month on a five-day work week or 100,000 pieces per month on a 7-day work week,” Buchenroth said.
“We started planning the project on Monday, March 30, and by Friday, April 3 we had a simple mold completed and running at a rate of 3,400 face shield frames per day,” added David Wisniewski.