Eastman donates materials for face shields to protect medical personnel


Eastman team members have quickly mobilized to produce material that is urgently needed for a collective effort to create face shields for Tennessee health care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eastman has manufactured and donated material being used to produce face shields at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) and at colleges and universities across the state. Read more about how Eastman materials are making a difference during the pandemic:

Project at Austin Peay University

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission is coordinating the effort to make 10,000 face shields in two weeks using 3D printers located at universities throughout the state. Especially in Nashville, medical personnel face a shortage of protective face masks. Universities stepped in to close that gap by making face shields with 3D printers. Austin Peay, located in Clarksville near Nashville, started purchasing acetate sheet from Hobby Lobby stores to produce the shields that provide a safe barrier from infection when treating patients with COVID-19.

The largest component of the protective barrier – the large, clear plastic shield that attaches to the wearable frame that is 3D printed – became the project bottleneck when the supply of acetate sheet dried up locally. Eastman received a call on Saturday, March 21. Could the state’s material innovation company produce and donate emergency material to aid this cause? The answer to that question: an immediate yes and agreement to do all we could to address the shortage and supply the materials needed for protection.

By Monday morning, Eastman Polymer Technology Division teams in B230 – with operators Jill Cline and Patsy Barton in the lead -- were turning out rolls of Eastman PETG specifically for the face shield effort. Chad Frazier, Group Leader for the B230 lab, played a key role in detailed planning work. PETG is one of our core copolyesters commonly used for rigid medical packaging and medical devices.

By Tuesday night, 1,000 feet of PETG film was on site at Austin Peay University in Clarksville, and the school’s project coordinator soon reported to Doug McWilliams, Director of CE Biodegradable Polymers, that the Eastman material was working perfectly. Eastman PTD continued running film, and by Wednesday, operations had produced enough rolls to make 10,000 face shields.

Eastman leaders expressed admiration for our operations teams who responded quickly and decisively.

 “Wow – to think we were trying to figure out how to help on Saturday night and you all have some sheets ready to go this (Monday) morning – that is amazing,” said Brendan Boyd, VP of Specialty Plastics and Fibers Technology. “To see how you responded – getting this done safely and quickly to help first line medical personnel in Nashville is incredibly awesome. Rising to the occasion like this is a great sign of how we will weather this storm by working together.” Steve Crawford,

SVP, Chief Technology and Sustainability Officer, expressed gratitude. “Team, you have my thanks, and I find your work truly inspiring,” he said. “The need here is very real and life changing. I’m proud to be part of a team that always solves for yes when their help is needed. Thank you!”

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