The COVID-19 crisis has temporarily closed the Digital Manufacturing Lab powered by Alliant Energy in Ames. Rather than remain idle, our partner Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) has used their time and expertise to help companies make a difference.
CIRAS connected two Alliant Energy customers from different parts of the state who teamed up to make tens of thousands of face shields. The Dimensional Group of Mason City makes the front part of the face shields. Angstrom Precision Molding of Ottumwa makes the halos, which is the part workers wear around their head. Both companies are in the Alliant Energy service area.
In addition to connecting the two companies, CIRAS helped to make the project cost-efficient and quick, deploying a 3D printer and digital simulations in the process.
The companies, which had never worked together, are now producing thousands of face shields each week. They sell them to the state of Iowa for $1.25 each. The market price for similar equipment usually is $8 to $10 each. The state buys the equipment to distribute to hospitals and other medical facilities.
Despite their main business being down by 80%, the companies were able to retain their employees to make the face shields. Without Alliant Energy’s support of technology in manufacturing, this pivot might not have been possible. Alliant Energy is the largest private donor to CIRAS.
Alliant Energy has purchased 1,000 of these face shields and donated them to rural hospitals and long-term care facilities across the state of Iowa.