Joining the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the injection molding team at A.L.P. LexaLite’s Charlevoix, MI facility mobilized to design and manufacture Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) face shields for front-line health care workers. They rapidly reorganized tooling and manufacturing functions to support this critical need, and they expect to have the first production models coming off the presses within days.
The company was initially approached by Charlevoix Hospital, looking for PPE. While primarily a manufacturer supplying components for lighting fixtures, A.L.P. has several customers in the health care sector. The team drew on its knowledge of health care requirements and standards to quickly design and tool the face shields in an unprecedented 10-day turnaround.
When in full production, A.L.P. can produce approximately 1400 face shields per day, and they plan to sell them at cost. “We will make them as long as they are needed,” states Steve Brown, CEO.
“This is one scenario I didn’t see coming,” Brown adds. “The COVID-19 crisis is tragic, yet it shows us what we can accomplish together when needed,” he observes. A.L.P. is not alone, as manufacturers all over the country are making similar efforts.
The A.L.P. face shield has some unique features. The plastic shield snaps onto a headband, and the shield is disposable. So, the caregiver can use the same headband throughout the day and simply snap on a new shield for each patient.
A.L.P. continues to operate during this crisis as an Essential Business, supplying into vital infrastructure such as construction, health care, transit, and government. The company has adjusted its practices, with the health and safety of employees, families, and communities as a top priority. The A.L.P. staff is working remotely when possible. All manufacturing locations have implemented additional measures to ensure safe distancing of employees, such as adjusting schedules, spacing equipment, and reorganizing meeting and break room spaces.
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A.L.P. Lighting Components, manufacturer of LED lighting components and fixture kits, has added to its industry-leading capacity to produce molded edgelit lighting panels. Taking advantage of Rambus closing its Brecksville, OH facility, A.L.P. purchased a 1,650-ton press, molds and other equipment to be installed in its Charlevoix, MI plant. A.L.P.’s LexaLite® brand has been at the forefront of edgelit technology for more than three decades, with preeminent production resources, expertise, and mold inventory. A.L.P. is currently the only North American manufacturer capable of injection molding both 1’x4’ and 2’x2’ edgelit panels.
By using standard molds with custom inserts, A.L.P. can quickly and inexpensively manufacture prototypes and low-volume production runs. Standard sizes include 48” x 12”, 24” x 12”, 24” x 8” and 24” x 24”. For large production orders, A.L.P.’s expert tooling and engineering teams can develop high volume tooling based on customers’ specifications for size, light source, light output pattern, thickness, and aesthetics. A.L.P. also has in-house CAD modeling and photometry testing resources.
Edgelit panels have gained increasing popularity for maximizing and retrofitting in-ceiling lighting. Flat edgelit panels are very thin, offering the versatility of mounting on a variety of surfaces including walls and ceilings, as well as providing the option of cable suspension. They are often considered “shadowless” because they produce broad, even light.
“We work closely with customers to meet all requirements for performance, cost, and speed to market,” states Tom Barnes, Vice President and Business Unit Manager for A.L.P. LexaLite. “By further investing in edgelit molding technology, A.L.P. can respond even more quickly to the needs of a rapidly changing lighting marketplace,” Barnes concludes.
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