Rotuba uses Eastman material to transition operations from producing pens to producing splash guards.

KINGSPORT, Tennessee

In response to shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) in hospitals across the nation, Eastman and Rotuba have collaborated to produce face shields for medical personnel on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. Rotuba will use Eastman cellulose acetate to create 75,000–100,000 splash guards per week to protect healthcare workers, small business owners, and citizens as they fight COVID-19.

Rotuba was quickly able to transition its business operations from manufacturing pens to manufacturing face shields by utilizing an existing material in a new application. The splash guards will be sold across the United States and supplied to first responders at the cost to produce them.

"Eastman and Rotuba have had a long relationship spanning over five decades of developing items consumers buy every day," said Adam Bell, president, Rotuba and Pen Company of America. "When we needed a reliable supply of cellulose acetate for these face shields, we turned to Eastman."

Eastman cellulose acetate is a versatile material that is used in a variety of consumer products. It provides the necessary optical quality, chemical resistance to hospital cleaning agents, and ability to be easily shaped for this application. Rotuba's splash guards are comfortable and reusable, providing medical personnel with PPE that is sustainable and affordable.

"Eastman is proud to work with Rotuba to provide much-needed supplies to those who need them most," said Reinier de Graaf, marketing director, Eastman specialty plastics — diversified. "We will continue to work with companies across the value chain to quickly adapt their operations to meet unmet needs during this crisis."

These face shields will be a critical asset to healthcare providers striving to do their day-to-day jobs safely and effectively. Adapting operations to produce this PPE has also provided important job security for Rotuba employees.

Face shields for medical personnel

"Keeping our workforce utilized by producing the face shields instead of pens has been a great help," said Bell. "Thanks to the support and continued partnership Eastman has provided, we have been able to keep 35 workers employed who might have otherwise been furloughed or laid off as a result of the crisis."

About Rotuba

Rotuba is the largest independent global custom compounder of cellulosics, a wood-based polymer used in faceshields, eyeglass frames and tool handles. Additionally, Rotuba owns and operates Pen Company of America (formerly known as Rotary Pen), the only pen company still manufacturing pens in the U.S., which includes the RevMark brand of writing utensils.

About Eastman

Founded in 1920, Eastman is a global specialty materials company that produces a broad range of products found in items people use every day. With the purpose of enhancing the quality of life in a material way, Eastman works with customers to deliver innovative products and solutions while maintaining a commitment to safety and sustainability. The company’s innovation-driven growth model takes advantage of world-class technology platforms, deep customer engagement, and differentiated application development to grow its leading positions in attractive end markets such as transportation, building and construction, and consumables. As a globally inclusive and diverse company, Eastman employs approximately 14,500 people around the world and serves customers in more than 100 countries. The company had 2019 revenues of approximately $9.3 billion and is headquartered in Kingsport, Tennessee, USA.

Editorial Contact

Laura Mansfield, APR


Adam Bell
President, Rotuba and Pen Company of America