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Chico company creating masks and shields for workers on the front lines

Due to an overwhelming number of calls, Idea Fab Labs is asking if you would like to order a mask or learn about sewing opportunities to please contact the links listed below.

Posted: Apr 2, 2020 8:02 AM
Updated: Apr 3, 2020 2:21 PM

CHICO, Calif. - One Northern California company is stepping in with efforts to protect healthcare workers from coronavirus exposure.

"Idea Fab Labs" in Chico wants to protect people on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We're producing both fabric face masks and also plastic face shields," said Erin Banwell, Director of Idea Fab Labs. "Right now we're doing 700 a day."

Banwell says he started production on March 20. He has a laser machine that cuts fabric for the masks. He also has a machine that cuts the plastic to make the shields.

It's all a part of the assembly line. In one room alone there's another assembly line where one station involves cutting nylon chords in order to make the fabric masks. A person in a second station cuts straps for the face shields and another station involves assembling the face shields.

The company is usually a hub for people to use their high tech tools, but they got a call to change their business model temporarily.

"We were originally reached out to by Debra Lucero a county supervisor," Banwell said.

Lucero requested the masks for social service health workers.

"Then a few days after that we were reached out to by Enloe hospital," Banwell said.

Representatives at Enloe Medical Center wanted the shields for its staff, it's a cause Banwell is happy to get behind.

"I hope I'm making a huge positive difference," Banwell said.

His company will continue to produce the gear -- with the help of donations from the North Valley Community Foundation. The donation allowed Banwell to hire seven employees. Before this, Banwell ran the company on his own.

He says he has already delivered some shields to Enloe Medical Center.

If you would like to help, "Idea Fab Labs" is looking to hire sewers who can make those masks from home, CLICK HERE.

Banwell says this really all kick-started with a generous donation from “Chico Start.” The company typically creates science exhibits for museums.

Please do not call Idea Fab Labs on the phone. To order masks, CLICK HERE 

If you would like to ask about sewing opportunities, email chicoideafablabs.com and in the subject line say "sewing."

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