As businesses were closing due to the pandemic in March of 2020, Columbia-based ZVerse initially became concerned they would need to lay off staff, but instead, they made a bold step and shifted their operations.
ZVerse began using their CAD digital platform to produce reusable face shields, beginning with their in-house 3D print capabilities. While those early shields were functional and greatly appreciated, ZVerse became overwhelmed by the demand. They needed to go to injection molding and required quick tooling expertise to satisfy the mounting backlog of orders. To be able to respond to a million-unit demand, there were two critical problems to be solved. One was identifying tooling and injection molding capabilities for a head band and the second was securing polycarbonate sheets for the clear visor component, both in scarce supply.
SCRA’s SCIS team quickly identified an existing inventory of polycarbonate sheets at Blue Ridge Thermoforming in Greenville, sufficient to produce about 40,000 test visors. They also contacted Zentura LLC in Boiling Springs, which designed and produced an H-shaped die cutting tool that eliminated the concern of hole punches contaminating a surgical unit. Zentura also identified a company to custom make polycarbonate sheets, produced visor tooling in just three days, and delivered the first 1,000 visors within two weeks. After receiving a ZVerse supply contract, Zentura quickly stepped up to supplying thousands per day; and by week 12, were making tens of thousands per day.
The rapid response by the SCIS team resulted in the delivery of millions of visors and helped ZVerse quickly respond to the needs of nurses and doctors while drastically expanding the size of its staff. ZVerse is now the largest reusable face shield suppliers in the nation and has since invented a non-clinical inverted shield.