Gear Brands Turn to Manufacturing Medical Supplies and Emergency Equipment

Last week, we covered Thalia Capos & Picks' pivot from guitar accessories to the life-saving intubation boxes sorely needed by hospitals dealing with COVID-19 patients. The move has allowed the staff of about 12 employees to get back to work—and with the purpose of keeping health professionals safe. Thalia is looking to build 200 boxes a week, until the need is met and normal manufacturing can continue.

But Thalia is by no means the only music gear company stepping up to use its manufacturing facilities and know-how to help healthcare workers.

D'Addario's Evans Drumhead Face Shields

Like Thalia, D'Addario had to close its factories thanks to a shelter-in-place order for non-essential workers announced in March. But according to Chief Innovation Officer Jim D’Addario, his team was already working on a plan to change Evans' drumheads into protective face shields.

Such face shields protect workers against coronavirus-infected patients' breath, coughs, and phlegm—and are part of a range of medical supplies known as personal protective equipment, or PPE. (If you've been following the news, you'll already know that such gear is in high-demand as hospitals across the country are inundated with patients needing respiratory care.)

The breadth and depth of D'Addario's manufacturing experience—which extends well beyond strings—made for a quick transition for the brand. D'Addario actually already makes physical therapy products through its Dynatomy brand, whose products already have FDA approval.

Realizing that Evans G2 drumheads could were the perfect material to construct hardy, protective face shields, the company has shifted gears. By April 27, D'Addario is looking to manufacture 100,00 face shields each week.

Jim D'Addario said in a statement: "It’s our intention to manufacture these shields as long as they’re needed in New York or anywhere around the globe. We’ve watched the incredible efforts of our healthcare and essential services workers all across the world with great admiration. While we cannot match the immeasurable efforts of these selfless heroes, we feel an immense responsibility to do our part in overcoming the COVID-19 crisis."

Cusack Music and 3DC19

Cusack Music is another gear company that has started repurposing its gear manufacturing tools to make face shields and other PPE deeply needed by hospitals around the country.

A smaller operation than D'Addario, Cusack's 3D-printed face shields are going to an organization called 3DC19, which is making and collecting 3D-printed PPE for donation to hospitals, nursing homes, hospice workers, police departments, and more more front-line essential workers.

Anyone who has a 3D printer and is trying to donate their time and resources is able to register it with 3DC19 on their website to start printing PPE that goes directly to these essential works. If you don't have a 3D printer but would still like to help, you can donate to 3DC19 via GoFundMe or PayPal.

Upstaging and Mountain Production's Mobile Health Centers

As reported by NAMM, two event-staging and lighting companies have shifted their focus from quickly setting up stages and show booths to mobile medical areas.

Mountain Productions' medical gown-making in action. Photo via NAMM.

All over the country, hospitals are building secondary sites away from overcrowded hospitals, where coronavirus patients can also receive care from doctors and nurses. Upstaging has taken its stage-rigging gear and used it instead to outfit medical facilities, as well to create room dividers, intubation boxes, and other medical gear.

Similarly, Mountain Productions has launched MTN Emergency Services to create the temporary medical structures themselves, as well as to manufacture PPE that includes gowns, mattress covers, and face masks. You can learn more about the company's medical structures and protective gear here.

Froggy's Fog Hand Sanitizer

Another company that would normally be turning out live-concert supplies is instead making necessities.

Froggy's Fog, as you might guess by the name, is a maker of the liquid used by the world's fog machines. But instead of adding an air of mystery to stages, the company is using the same manufacturing equipment to make large amounts of hand sanitizer.

Co-owner Chris Markgraf told NAMM, "We realized that we had all the main ingredients for hand sanitizer in-house and the ability to mass-produce and distribute it to the masses."

Located in Columbia, Tennessee, Froggy's Fog is focused on getting hand sanitizer to local first responders and others in the community that need it.

Ernie Ball's Face Masks

Another gear company looking to take care of its local community is string giant Ernie Ball.

With a factory in California's Coachella Valley, Ernie Ball has shifted some of its production line to creating hundreds of face masks every day, to be distributed to local community members in need of protection.

An Ernie Ball employee sewing face masks.

As reported by Patch, "The company recently reconfigured a portion of its factory to produce 400 two-ply cotton masks per day, and announced free masks would soon be available for all Coachella Valley residents who place their orders online. The masks will then be delivered for free, the company said."

CEO Brian Ball said: "We are dedicating our accessories and strap manufacturing departments to producing masks and are making it a top priority. The Coachella Valley is our home and we want to help both local charities and the residents as well. We believe it's by joining together that we stay strong and we are proud to play a role in helping our community be safe."


Do you know of other gear brands manufacturing medical and emergency supplies? Let us know in the comments.

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