In only a few days, Bedford Industries, a producer of twist ties, bendable components and closures for the baking and snack industries, has transformed part of its production facilities to create, design, develop and manufacture a new face shield to protect N95 masks to assist front-line medical workers nationwide.
The innovative ElastiShield mask not only extends the amount of time health care professionals and others can use an N95, but also serves as a stand-alone face mask for individuals in other professions.
The Worthington, Minn.-based Bedford—which employs more than 400 people—designed and developed a working prototype in less than 24 hours in mid-March, after CEO Jay Milbrandt and colleagues saw news reports of shortfalls in N95 and PPE supply for medical workers.
“I came into the office and gathered several teammates, including engineers and designers,” he said. “We asked ourselves, ‘What can we do with our experience and facilities to help health care workers desperate for PPE?’”
Bedford, family found and owned since 1966, also serves the produce, coffee and medical supply industries for which it creates the metal nose wires for surgical masks. Leveraging the company’s nimble spirit and knowledge of the medical supply chain, Bedford, within a day, created and produced a prototype face shield that, when placed over an N95, can extend its lifespan.
Three days later, Bedford was actively manufacturing ElastiShields.
“We’re fortunate to have a team that is well-versed in quickly adjusting to a customer’s unique request or needs,” Milbrandt said. “The diverse needs of baking and snacking industries helped us prepare for this moment. We also greatly appreciated our vendors who were there for us to retool our production facilities in a timely manner.”
Bedford soon secured support from partners in the medical field, including Sanford Health and earned an FDA registration. Today, Bedford is producing hundreds of thousands of face shields weekly.
“We as a nation have quickly learned that N95s are a precious resource, and we are humbled to create this new tool to extend their usage when our nation’s health care workers and other front-line professionals need them the most,” Milbrandt concluded. “At the same time, we have realized that ElastiShield can also be a stand-alone mask for any person. We anticipate we’ll continue manufacturing ElastiShields for some time while still serving the baking and snack industries.”