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face shield

Sole US-based Pen Maker Transitions to Production of Face Shields

Rotuba operates Pen Co. of America, the only company still manufacturing pens in the United States. It has collaborated with Eastman to begin producing splash guards to help stem the spread of COVID-19.

Rotuba is the largest independent global custom compounder of cellulosics, a wood-based polymer, and it also owns and operates Pen Co. of America. Formerly known as Rotary Pen, it is the only company still manufacturing pens, including the RevMark brand, in the United States. Recently, it achieved a new first — manufacturing face shields.

Rotuba is producing as many as 100,000 splash guards weekly using cellulose acetate from Eastman. Image courtesy Eastman.

Rotuba is using cellulose acetate supplied by Eastman to produce up to 100,000 splash guards per week to protect healthcare workers, small business owners, and citizens as they fight COVID-19, said Eastman in a press release. Rotuba was quickly able to transition its business operations from manufacturing pens to producing face shields by utilizing an existing material — cellulose acetate supplied by Eastman Chemical — in a new application. It is producing up to 100,000 splash guards weekly, which it sells across the United States. They are available to medical personnel and first responders at cost.

"Eastman and Rotuba have had a long relationship spanning over five decades of developing items consumers buy every day," said Adam Bell, President, Rotuba and Pen Company of America. "When we needed a reliable supply of cellulose acetate for these face shields, we turned to Eastman."

Eastman’s cellulose acetate provides the necessary optical quality, chemical resistance to hospital cleaning agents, and ability to be easily shaped for this application. Rotuba's splash guards are comfortable and reusable, providing medical personnel with PPE that is sustainable and affordable, said the release.

"Eastman is proud to work with Rotuba to provide much-needed supplies to those who need them most," said Reinier de Graaf, Marketing Director, Eastman specialty plastics — diversified. "We will continue to work with companies across the value chain to quickly adapt their operations to meet unmet needs during this crisis."

The plastics industry has stepped up in many ways to help fight COVID-19. In this slideshow — "Plastic Face Shields: Ingenious Methods and Designs" — we feature six one-of-a-kind examples of face shields produced by plastics processors.

These face shields will be a critical asset to healthcare providers striving to do their day-to-day jobs safely and effectively, said Rotuba. Adapting operations to produce this PPE has also provided important job security for Rotuba employees — it has allowed the company to retain 35 workers who otherwise might have been furloughed or laid off as a result of the crisis, said Rotuba.

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