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Horton begins producing frames for PPE face shields in response to COVID-19 crisis


April 13, 2020

With technology usually reserved for prototype development and machine fitting samples, Horton has begun producing face shield frames for use in local hospitals battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

The engine cooling manufacturer recently volunteered its 3D printing capacity to making the frames, which house the clear shield protecting a medical professional’s face. As the novel coronavirus sweeps across the globe, many medical facilities face shortages of such personal protective equipment.

 “We’re just trying to help out as much as we can,” said Horton Engineering Technician Dennis Skalecki, one of the leads on the project. “They need something, and we have the availability, so why not do it?”

horton covid-19 face shields 3d printing
Face shields featuring Horton’s 3D-printed frames are being distributed to medical providers throughout the Twin Cities.

Skalecki and Application Engineer Ryan Niederkorn took charge of the idea after connecting with local high school engineering teacher Mark Westlake, who provided the 3D printing model for the frames. Westlake, director of St. Thomas Academy’s Innovation Center, has collected, assembled and distributed more than 1,200 shields to health care providers across the Midwest.

Recipients include Regions Hospital, Children’s Minnesota, Methodist Hospital, North Memorial, all Minnesota veterans’ homes and the Dakota County Sheriff’s office.

Westlake and the Innovation Center have tapped 3D printing sources throughout the United States to help create the face shields. Horton was one of the first local manufacturers to join the effort.

[RELATED: Horton continues operations as part of Critical Manufacturing Sector]

“We have loved having Horton support this effort,” Westlake said. “Horton was one of the first companies to rise to challenge, and we love when we receive the Horton box at Saint Thomas Academy. The quality of the 3D printed visors need no finishing when we are preparing the shields for the end users, and that saves us a ton of time.”

In the first week of production, Horton had created 128 frames in its Roseville, Minnesota facility, with plans to print as many more as necessary.

“I will keep going till [Westlake] tells me to stop,” Skalecki said.