If you’ve been following our series of articles about car stereo shops across North America building COVID-19 face shields, then the name Gary Bell should, excuse the pun, ring a bell. Gary is the owner of Define Concepts in Orange, California. His high-end automotive enhancement shop is equipped with a good-sized CNC router and a CNC laser cutter, and being near Los Angeles, he knew that the supply of plastics would be in good shape. Gary set to work building shields with a plan to get them into the field as quickly as possible.
Face Shields Protect Frontline Workers
When Gary started the project, he had a goal of creating roughly 1,000 shields to help protect doctors and nurses around Southern California. As momentum grew for the project, like-minded car audio industry peers like JT from Automotive Entertainment Huntington Beach, Tom from Beach Auto Sound and Sam at AudioLab Car Stereo, as well as Jason from Clips and Fasteners and Javier from Bazz Houston, combined their efforts to produce parts for more than 20,000 shields in less than a month. Impressively, about half of those shields were fully assembled before being delivered. The team provided the balance of the parts to industry colleagues in the hardest-hit areas. Gary figures that the industry-wide effort will easily exceed 100,000 shields before this is over.
A Quick Protection Solution
Gary evolved the design that Jeremy Katz and Evan Collins at JK Automotive Designs created so that no clips or zip ties were required to complete the assembly. His goal was to speed the assembly time while reducing lead times. The size of the shield’s front lens was increased to provide as much coverage as possible while maintaining efficient use of the raw materials.
Another challenge was the sourcing of a suitable elastic to hold the shield to the wearer’s head. After exhausting the supply of the elastic from the original specification, Gary revised the design again to use either a thin bungee cord, ½- to 1-inch elastic, or even surgical tubing. JT Torres found one of the easiest-to-source options: a #107 rubber band from Uline. It’s evident that component availability and assembly speed has been the driving force behind each design evolution.
Gary was getting concerned with the time it was taking to cut each shield. The obvious option was to use a stamping die. The downside is that it can take weeks to have those dies made. He decided to pursue it as a back-up option. If there was still a need for shields by the time the die was completed, it would instantly increase production capability for the entire network. Mario Ramos, a friend of Bell’s, introduced him to Adam at Aggressive Dies. Adam had the die built in no time and went on to help stamp hundreds of sheets of material into lenses in a fraction of the time it was taking to router and laser cut them.
The SoCal face shield team, just like their peers around the country, is donating its labor and machine time to this project. The team has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help cover the significant material costs. Even a donation of $5 will protect another doctor or nurse.
The staff here at BestCarAudio.com can’t thank everyone across our amazing industry enough for their massive commitment to this project. To think that a group of guys and girls who typically provide luxury entertainment solutions have become a key part of saving people’s lives is awe-inspiring.