Written by: Josh Fagan – Herald Sun, June 4. 2020
A Melbourne business is ramping up production of low-cost plastic face shields in a bid to compete with Chinese manufacturers.
Coburg-based Space Tank Studio has launched a new model of face shield it said was about 30 per cent cheaper than equivalent products made in China.
Its ‘Rapid Shield’ masks can be produced on a mass scale of up to 250,000 per day, designer Holger Dielenberg said.
He said the idea was to have an Australian-made product that could be sold around the world at an affordable price to help protect workers from COVID-19.
Small-scale production of the Rapid Shield began last week to fill an order from a makeup company trialing its use by staff in the chain’s Australian and New Zealand stores.
Rapid Shields are now in stock and you can email Space Tank to order yours now – firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr Dielenberg said it had been a quick turnaround since coming up with the concept six weeks earlier.
He said there had been a lot of trial and error on designs and consultation with state and federal governments, as well as health experts from Monash Medical and Northern Health.
The final design was made to be easy to put on and easy to package, to cut down on storage space and shipping costs.
Prices work out to about $4.50 per shield for orders of 100 or less, but would lower to about $2.50 each for a high-volume order.
“That’s way below the Chinese-equivalent price,” Mr Dielenberg said.
He said they were able to keep costs down by making the shield as a single piece that could be flat-packed.
“The whole design is around hitting efficiencies. We’ve tried to solve some of the logistic problems.”
He said production was ready to go at 50,000 per day and could ramp up to as high as 250,000 per day.
The shield had been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Authority, Mr Dielenberg said.
He said they could be supplied to healthcare workers and staff from different industries, such as retail and hospitality.
“I think we have to remember coming out of lockdown it won’t just be healthcare workers who need to be protected, it’s anyone who has close proximity to anyone else. That’s almost every occupation.”
He said he expected there would be a demand for quality Australian designed and made products.
It comes after the federal government last month ordered the TGA to investigate reports that dodgy imported face masks had been sold to Australian hospitals.
“What COVID-19 has exposed is our manufacturing vulnerability,” Mr Dielenberg said.
“We don’t want to be in a position again where we have to get PPE through the government from China. We want to be able to turn to our neighbour and say ‘hey can you make gowns, can you make face shields and masks and gloves for us?’ and the response should be ‘yes of course we can’. That’s how Australia should be working. What we’ve demonstrated is that it’s possible.”