COVID-19 Response - Social Distancing and PPE Production.
Milwaukee Makerspace is currently open on a limited basis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All members and visitors must be wearing masks. We have modified our normal Tuesday night meeting schedule to help keep everyone safe. Every other week we are alternating between virtual meetings, and socially distanced meetings in the parking lot. If you would like to attend a meeting to learn more about the group and get information on joining, please visit our calendar
A team of volunteers from Milwaukee Makerspace and the community have taken on the task of producing face shields for Milwaukee area hospitals and health care clinics. To find out more, read the posts below.
Members of Milwaukee Makerspace, led by artist Kathy Cannistra, were bummed that they could not take their installation to Burning Man this year due to the event being canceled (like all other large-scale events this year) but they thought they could still put it on display while also helping draw some attention to Hales Corners’ restaurant Clifford’s Supper Club, which is owned by Kathy’s father.
A team of ten makers, friends, and family members helped build “Atomic Forest”. Between painting, sanding, soldering wires and custom-fabricating the metal components, the team estimates they spent 2,600 hours on the project. The sculptures debuted at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, Wisconsin in fall of 2019. After the exhibit closed, the giant flowers went into storage, and with Burning Man canceled, had nowhere to go, so Kathy thought that sharing the art with the community by putting them up at Clifford’s Supper Club would be a great way to provide an outdoor seating area allowing patrons to eat outside or simply enjoy the artwork.
The “stalk” of each flower rises from the center of a large table that also covers the underlying support structure. The “petals” are LED lights encased by white tubing looped back on itself. Each flower can run different colors and patterns, and grow dimmer as the evening winds down. Barriers separate the “garden” from the parking lot.
Within days of the flowers going up, the Hales Corners Village Trustees held an emergency vote by phone to have the installation removed. With so many restaurants struggling to survive, Kathy hoped that her art could offer a solution and some solace to the neighborhood and those looking to eat outdoors, but it looks like the city is not on-board with a temporary art exhibit meant to help a local restaurant that has served the community for over 60 years.
If you’re as upset about the Village Trustees decision as we are, please express your support for keeping the temporary installation up for the summer. Visit Support LED Artwork at Cliffords on Facebook and leave a comment.
The murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests against police brutality have brought fresh light to the ongoing gross inequalities experienced by black, brown, immigrant, and minority communities here and across the nation. As individuals, we believe that the Makerspace as a community organization must not remain silent on these issues. We stand united with those who are struggling to achieve justice and equality.
Although the Makerspace has long prided itself on its diversity of opinion, we acknowledge that we have not yet achieved a similar degree of cultural and ethnic inclusivity. We know we have a lot of listening and learning ahead in order to change this. Nevertheless, today we reaffirm our stance that making is for all people and we pledge to do more to provide our members with equal opportunities for success within our own space.
We are actively re-examining our member conduct policies to ensure that no voice goes unheard, and no member feels unwelcome. We call on our fellow members to find ways they can better support and uplift our neighbors, colleagues, friends and family in the black community at all times, and in this particular moment of strife. We also welcome everyone’s feedback (however specific or general), on how the membership (Board included) might make further progress towards these goals.
To the communities who have been affected by inequality, we are listening, we see you, and we stand with you.
Remember last week when we told you that there was a new press at MMS and we would give you photos and videos this week?
First, we have to tell you why having this press is so great.
A donor – Kapco Metal Stamping, cut a bunch of visors for us for the face shields we are making and donating. A BUNCH. You know this is kind of a pain in the neck for a company – they have to set up their machines and they have to send their people to work on the project and it’s not something that makes money for them. It’s just a really nice, generous, wonderful thing for them to do. But we cannot ask them to do it forever.
We had to find a longer-term solution.
We needed our own die. Apple Die made it for us. It’s pretty! It’s so simple and elegant.
Here’s some detail – this is where it punches the holes where the visor attaches to the frame.
But you can’t just use your hands to mash a piece of plastic on top of a die to make a visor unless you want a lot of blood on the visor, which you do not because then you can’t see out of the visor, which defeats the whole purpose.
So Markus rigged up a small press thingy. But, as you can probably tell, it’s kind of a pain in the neck to operate.
So Markus bought a real press.
He bought a press at auction.
And paid only ELEVEN DOLLARS FOR IT because – well, this is Wisconsin and here, we do not waste.
And now we have power – more power – to stamp out visors and there will not be blood. We can stamp our own visors and make more face shields and donate more face shields and help save more lives and who can argue with that mission?
You may stop reading here if you want. You have the basics of the story. We needed a way to make visors at the shop and now we have it.
But there is more to this story. And it’s a bit of a mystery.
How did this press end up in Milwaukee?
It started in England over 50 years ago.
We know this because Markus is an awesome detective. He found documents stuck inside the cabinet.
The British United Shoe Machinery Company Limited
Who is The British United Shoe Machinery Company Limited (BUSM)?
Who is Samco?
Did Samco sell a machine to BUSM?
Here’s what wikipedia, citing what appear to be reliable sources, says about BUSM:
British United Shoe Machinery (BUSM) Ltd. was the head office in Leicester, England of a company which for most of the 20th century was the world’s largest manufacturer of footwear machinery and materials, exporting shoe machinery to more than 50 countries. In the 1960s and 1970s, it was Leicester’s biggest employer employing more than 4,500 locally and 9500 worldwide. Most of the workforce was recruited via an apprentice scheme which trained a large proportion of Leicester’s engineers. The company had “a respected reputation for technical innovation and excellence”, between 1898 and 1960, it developed and marketed nearly 800 new and improved shoe machines and patented more than 9,000 inventions, at one time employing 5% of the UK’s patent agents.
The collapse of the company in October 2000 destroyed the pensions of the workers. Their story became “one of the most vivid examples of what can go wrong with..Private Equity” and brought “shame on Apax.” The company subsequently went into administrative receivership and was the subject of a management buyout. This new company itself went into administration in September 2006. In November 2006 a new independent company, Advent Technologies Ltd, was formed by former workers of BUSM providing technical support, advice and spare parts for the range of BUSM machinery.
I can’t find a website for Samco-Strong, but there are other websites that refer to the company and describe them:
Samco Strong Ltd is supplier of Cutting Presses and other types of machinery to all the Leather Industries, they also operate a fast and reliable Press Knife service.Located in UK.
Samco press cutting systems are cutting time and costs across a wide variety of industries including: gaskets, automotive trim, plastics, foam, rubber, packaging, woodworking and furniture, garment manufacture and textile cutting, carpets and floor covering.
They have the following cutting press: Swing Beam cutting machine, Beam Press,Traveling Head press etc.
“Indeed, virtually every fabric or material die cut process can be – and generally is being – carried out on Samco presses.”
So maybe Samco sold a press to BUSM.
James Brighouse, Ltd
Who is James Brighouse, Ltd? The only thing I can find online about them is a story in the May 8 1964 London Gazette about factories exempt from the “Employment of Women and Young Persons” section of the Factories Act 1961.
Did the press go to Scotland first? To a manufacturer of bobbins and discs? And trawl nets?
That seems to fall along the lines of “Bait, beer, and prom dresses,” but perhaps there are manufacturing overlaps I am not seeing.
Or maybe that envelope on top held parts that the original press owners ordered?
More Samco – the mystery continues
And then there’s this label. It appears to be a shipping label from Samco in Leicester, which is also where BUSM was headquartered, to Boston. Which must be Boston USA, not Boston House, Abbey Park Road, Leicester, which is very confusing.
I don’t know this because I am psychic but because we also have this clue:
We have a packing slip from 1966 with the destination of “Boston,” not “Boston House.” And we know that somehow, this machine ended up in the US. (Deduction.)
We know we got it at auction. And that it appears to have been owned by a plastics company before. But what were they making? And where were they? In Boston? Or has the machine had other owners since it was shipped to Massachusetts in 1966?
Unless Markus finds more papers stuck somewhere, we are left here: a machine that was built in England before 1966. And it still works.
The workers at the Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center, Inc. were happy to get their shields as they start COVID-19 testing in Milwaukee.
Our big news for the week is that we broke $20,000 in donations with our GoFundMe campaign. Yesterday we reached, with a matching donation of $1,000 from GoFundMe, $21,422. This means we are OK for money for now.
The other big news is that we have donated over 5,000 shields. Two weeks ago, we delivered 2,199 shields. Last week, we delivered 1,612. This week, we delivered 805. We are not sure if this is because the need is diminishing because COVID-19 is going away or because health care workers are finally finding suppliers or if it is because the people who need to know about us don’t know about us.
It may be a combination of the two. Yesterday afternoon, we got a request for 200 shields from a woman whose mother is at a local nursing home. Nine of the residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The home did not have any face shields at all.
And another person wrote, “My granddaughter requested 25 masks for herself and her coworkers. She says that the number of patients has eased up but that she is preparing for the expected second wave.”
We do have substantial inventory of both raw materials and finished shields that Markus can store for us.
We mentioned last week that Markus has been working on a clicker press so we can make our own visors.
Markus is testing the new die from Apple Die.
We found a press at auction and paid – are you ready – $11 for it. (We are Wisconsinites. We are frugal.)
As soon as it’s at the shop, we will get photos and video, we promise.
In the news
And finally, we have gotten some really nice press (of the fourth estate type) lately.
When nurses and doctors needed face shields, a couple of young Marquette engineers started creating themMarquette University
With the COVID-19 pandemic and “Safer at Home” order, members of the Milwaukee Makerspace pivoted from using their facility as a space for innovation and learning to one that can create thousands of face shields per week.Urban Milwaukee
The nonprofit Milwaukee Makerspace recently launched a project to get critical personal protection equipment (PPE) to medical professionals, hospitals and clinics at no cost.OnMilwaukee
Last week we reported delivering 2,199 face shields to Milwaukee area hospitals and clinics. That number was high due to a backlog the week before, so we were doing a lot of catching up last week, and we started this week all caught up (and a little ahead) so this week’s delivery number of 1,612 doesn’t seem as impressive, but in total since we started producing face shields, we’ve delivered 4,396.
For the clear front part of the face shield we’re still working with a few companies to cut those for us, but Markus has been working on a clicker press so we can also make them on our own. He has the die mostly ready to go thanks to Apple Die. With the giant roll of PET plastic we got this week we should be able to put quite a dent in the 30,300 injection molded frames we have. Yes, that’s 30,300 injection molded frames. We… have… a… lot.
Because we have a lot, and can (fairly easily) produce more, we’ve had some requests from outside Wisconsin for some. We’re deciding how to deal with those, but know that our primary mission has been to keep medical professional in the Milwaukee area safe when they are at work caring for our family, friends, and co-workers.
Also, major thanks are due to Netzer Plastics in Medford. We could not have reached these numbers without them. Their injection molding capabilities (and awesome robot) have helped us help keep people safe. (Their web site is still “under construction” because they’ve been busy making frames for us, but if you need some injection molding done, talk to them.)
We’ll keep going with production… Our GoFundMe campaign just crossed $19,000 so we’re doing okay for covering expenses, and at least a one or two requests were not fulfilled due to some organizations being supplied PPE from other sources. We don’t know if we’re out of the woods yet, or if things will get worse, but we will help while we are able to. Keep checking back for more updates!