The pandemic impacted nearly every industry and the plastics industry was no exception. Companies that manufactured components for automotive and construction purposes found business grinding to a halt. Automotive sales in the United States were down 46 percent in April 2020 from the year prior, and construction projects were put on hold, decreasing demand for PVC pipes and siding.
Other plastics manufacturers could barely keep up with growing demand—particularly those who manufactured (or pivoted to manufacture) critical supplies such as mask components, plastic shields, plastic barriers, and other personal protective equipment (PPE). The need for food packaging rose substantially as well when consumers turned toward packaged and frozen foods, delivery services, and restaurant take-out.
At Emco Plastics, we're proud to contribute to the ongoing fight against COVID-19 by helping meet the demand for pandemic-related plastic products.
Materials Used for Plastic Shields, Barriers, Partitions, or Dividers
Restaurants, offices, stores, and other businesses have largely implemented strict COVID-19 guidelines in accordance with local government regulations or industry best practices. This may include social distancing, capacity limits, mandatory mask wearing, and plastic barriers between employees and customers.
To create these protective solutions, manufacturers commonly turn to three durable plastics:
- Acrylic/Plexiglas. Acrylic is transparent and strong, with excellent moisture and chemical resistance. It has a wide variety of uses, including the plastic barriers found at checkout counters and reception desks.
- Polycarbonate/Lexan. Known for its transparency and resistance to impact, chemicals, and heat, polycarbonate can be customized to suit a variety of needs. It's commonly used for greenhouses and other agricultural purposes, as well as medical tools and food and beverage packaging.
- PETG/Vivak. Glycol-modified polyethylene terephthalate is a clear thermoplastic with high impact and chemical resistances. It's used for a variety of guards and covers, medical and retail packaging, and more.
How Should You Set Up Plastic Barriers at Your Business or Office?
While clear plastic barriers between people are important, they're not the only line of defense for businesses that need to protect their customers and staff. Barriers are best used in conjunction with other measures, like masks, plastic shields, and social distancing. However, barriers can play an especially important role as an additional measure of protection in offices, schools, and other facilities. Plastic barriers also provide extra protection in areas where social distancing is difficult, such as checkout counters.
Follow these installation guidelines to get the best performance from your plastic barriers:
- Barriers should be large enough to protect the breathing zone, a 12-inch radius from the middle of the person's face.
- Choose barriers made of materials like acrylic, which are transparent and easy to clean/disinfect regularly.
- Install barriers securely to mitigate any risk of them falling and injuring someone.
- Barriers should not block exits, sprinkler systems, or smoke alarms and detectors, nor should they inhibit the ability to move safely throughout a space.
Plastic barriers are considered of the highest importance at food service counters, ticketing areas, busy reception and check-in desks, shuttles, buses, and more. They're also a critical component for creating a safer workplace in situations where social distancing may not be possible or practical, like in manufacturing facilities, schools, retail businesses, and certain collaborative office situations.
For more than three decades, Emco Plastics has been a trusted provider of plastic components for a number of industries and applications. Our custom solutions use the latest technology and the highest standards for quality. We offer prototyping services to help you optimize your barriers and can handle production runs of virtually any size. We offer laser cutting, plastic welding, edge finishing, injection molding, machined components, drape forming, vacuum forming, and more.
Contact us or request a quote to learn more about our COVID-related supplies or any of our other solutions and capabilities.