Hiawatha Businesses Come Together To Make Face Masks

As the coronavirus pandemic has spread throughout the country, the lack of face masks and shields has become a disturbing trend. The shortage of these masks has been troubling for health care providers all over the country, and here in our home state, Iowa. To help slow the shortage and increase access for hospital workers, three local Hiawatha businesses have transformed their production processes to help address the state’s dire need for face masks.

From engineering and digital signs to full-service graphics, Arreya Digital Signage, Banacom Signs and Wesley Allensworth of Crystal Group have all stepped up to the plate to help out with this crisis.

Arreya Digital Signage is a digital signage company known for its reliable, powerful signage software that can be molded to any project. They are teaming up with Comic Sandwiches, a company that creates comic genre props and replicas like Captain America shields, to create face shields.

Comic Sandwiches and Arreya Digital Signage have been working around the clock to create a prototype that they will have UnityPoint verify for production. With UnityPoints clearance, they should hopefully move into full production of the mask very soon.

“In other words, along with Captain America Shields, we are creating another life-saving shield.” – Jill Burgess, President of Arreya Digital Signage.

Banacom Signs is a family-run, full-service graphics company known for its custom, cost-effective signage. They have provided multi-use laser-cut face shields to be used as personal protective equipment for the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. These multi-use face shields are also going to the Iowa COVID Rapid Response Network to be distributed. Banacom is equipped with enough staff and resources to be able to produce up to 85 masks an hour, and are available to create additional masks upon request.

For Wesley Allensworth of Crystal Group, the idea came to him when he realized he could help the shortages the hospitals were facing with materials he already had access to.

“I was wondering to myself, what could I do to improve this shortage and it dawned on me that we could use our 3D printers to manufacture some personal protective equipment and then use things found around the house or factory to finish assembling it,” stated Allensworth.

Allensworth works for Crystal Group, which manufactures ruggedized computer and electronic equipment for harsh environments. Creating face masks is a little out of their league, but creating them just goes to show that anyone can take standard materials from numerous types of industries and help out during this time of need.

The simple face masks are available for free online, and at least 70 of them are being donated to St. Luke’s Hospitals and other area facilities.

In the midst of a global pandemic, the last thing we want to hear is that our incredible medical facilities are running out of protective face masks. Seeing our local businesses here in Hiawatha come together to help out in any way shows how powerful our community truly is during a crisis. The kindness and generosity our community has shown during this pandemic are two positive side effects we will always remember.