There is a new Samco 60 ton 60” full beam press at MMS

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.

Temporary press

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.

New press

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?


The mystery

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.[1] In the 1960s and 1970s, it was Leicester’s biggest employer employing more than 4,500 locally and 9500 worldwide.[1] Most of the workforce was recruited via an apprentice scheme which trained a large proportion of Leicester’s engineers.[1][2] The company had “a respected reputation for technical innovation and excellence”,[1] 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.[3]

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”[4] and brought “shame on Apax.”[5] 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.


And…. even more face shields for Milwaukee and beyond

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.

Clicker press

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 them Marquette 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

Volunteer engineers teamed up to make face shields My Frontline Hero

Your work is more appreciated than you will ever know! Helping us to keep our families safe while caring for our patients is the greatest gift you could ever give. Thank you!

Once again if you are in need of face shields, please request them!

Injection molded frames have arrived!

Jon Hughett arrives at Milwaukee Makerspace Sunday night with over a thousand molded frames from Netzer Plastics in Medford.

Ten thousand. Ten thousand frames in three days.


Holy smoke, you guys. 

We are going to be able to help so many people. 

This is all moving so fast. 

On Wednesday, the mold was ready. The people at Compumold in Phillips worked late every day and over Easter/Passover weekend to finish the mold in less than half the time it usually takes to make one. They understood that our mission is to save lives and they wanted to be part of it.

On Wednesday, Jeff Netzer at Netzer Plastics in Medford drove to Phillips to get the mold and made some samples.

On Thursday, Markus Schneider drove to Medford to look at the samples. 

They were good.

Jeff started cranking out the frames. At the rate of 2,750 a day.

Frames come off the conveyor at Netzer Plastics.

On Friday, Markus drove to Medford again and picked up a box of frames.

Our first batch of molded frames. They don’t have to be rinsed or washed in an alcohol bath, which speeds the process dramatically.

Jeff kept cranking them out.

On Sunday, Jon drove to Medford to pick up half a Gaylord of frames. (That’s all that could fit into his van.)

Markus retrieves the box of frames from Jon’s van on Sunday night.

And today – Monday – there are more frames waiting.

Jeff says he will keep making frames as long as he has the plastic.

And we will keep helping medical workers with shields as long as we can.

We are almost ready to make a lot of face shields!

The employees at Compumold worked through the weekend and some people stayed late to make sure they completed the mold as soon as possible. They delivered it to us more than a week ahead of schedule. This is a steel mold, which is more complicated to make than an aluminum one, so this turnaround has been extremely fast.

Our mold is ready!

The mold for injection molding of the frames for the face shields is ready.

Why does this matter, you ask?

Because with injection molding, we are going to be able put a lot more shields onto the faces of our medical workers in the Milwaukee area as they fight coronavirus. We are going to be able to save more lives.

We have been cutting the frames one by one on Tom Gondek’s CNC router, which is not a bad way to do things, but it’s slow. And each one of these frames has to be washed two times, once in water, once in alcohol. By hand. Which is also slow.

Frames after the initial washing at Tom’s shop.

As of April 15, we have requests for almost 4,000 face shields in the queue.

We can produce about 200-500 frames per day with the CNC router.

But with our new process – with injection molding – we will be able to quadruple production, making up to 2,000 frames per day.

And the frames made by injection molding do not need to be cleaned even once, so the overall process will be a lot faster.

I spent yesterday afternoon with Alden and Chris cleaning frames. It’s a tedious, slow process.

You dip the frames, two at a time, into a bath of alcohol water. (Which, BTW, makes your hands really cold.)

You let them sit on one side for five seconds, then you turn them and let them sit on the other side for five seconds.

Then you lift them out, let them drain, carry them to a drying rack (of which we have limited capacity), and hang them. They have to be completely dry for packaging.

Chris is cleaning frames. But this is not an efficient process.

This is not the best way to ship a lot of shields. Not when you have a backlog of 4,000.

Jeff, our injection molder, has already picked up the mold in Phillips and taken it back to his machines in Medford. He will have samples for us today.

Stay tuned!