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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WGNO)- PPEs are essential right now and supplies are low, which is why local businesses are suspending their normal operations and instead making medical gear.

A New Orleans sign and graphic design shop are keeping busy making those much needed medical equipment.

“We’re a sign shop and not inherently a fabric cutter or seamstress shop. So we never thought we would be making medical gowns and personal protective equipment but, as time changed we were happy to step up and do what opportunity was given to us,” Mark Backus, OPA Partner, sales and design.

OPA had the space and NOLA Couture needed their help. So, the workers at OPA began re-tooling warehouse and quickly got work.

“They’ve been a huge help to us and allowing us to keep moving these gowns to the hospitals faster and they’d providing probably three quarters of cut materials while were still cutting about a quarter of them here at our factory and that’s allowing our team to keep manufacturing of the goods,” shared Cecile Hardy Tanguis, owner of NOLA Couture.

“Providing them the equipment they need is incredible. Our team is running 24/7 and everyone is getting a little tired but, it’s giving us that motivation to really kind of push through those long hours,” said Michael Barr, OPA partner and sales.

Before coronavirus this area was used for design printing. Now, it’s transformed into a new assembly line…where fabric is laid out and cut into the gowns. 

“What we were able to do is ramp up their productions and fabricate some equipment that not allows us to cut one roll at a time but, 4 sheet of material to stack it up about 50 layers thick and really add scale and production to what the seamstresses are doing,” described Backus.

Operations have been in full swing. In fact the machines were running all hours of the day. 

“Gown? We’ve produced right around 13,000 gowns and right around 25,000 face-shields, ” said Backus.

But for the next few days, the tools will sit still. After working so fast, OPA is out of materials.

“The holding pattern right now is the supply chain so we have the man power. We have the abilities but We are Really just waiting on materials that seems to be the pinch point right now.”

Anxious to get back to work, they’re expecting to get the next wave of supplies this week but, this is giving them a well deserved break. 

As the cases of Coronavirus skyrocketed in New Orleans, Scale Workspace and its tenants Entrescan and Robert Forbes 3D responded by pivoting their production to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE), with a heavy focus on full face shields.

Within only four days, the team had produced a functioning design and delivered face shield prototypes to Ochsner Health for testing. Due to a large demand for the face shields, GoodWood Nola and OPA Signs and Graphics came on to accelerate the manufacturing of our design. 

The face shield features a clear shield that is then attached to a frame. The shield and frame are cut on a laser cutter and are then sanitized and assembled for use.