API to help make more oxygen helmets

Antonia Cancino and Advanced Pedestals Inc. injection molding manager Don Houston look at the rings needed for the hyperbaric hood produced from Waxahachie company Sea-Long Medical Supplies.

Gainesville’s Advanced Pedestals Inc. is doing all it can to help out during this difficult time. As the coronavirus impacts the United States more and more by the day, hampering people’s ability to breathe, API is working with Waxahachie company Sea-Long Medical Supplies to come up with a solution.

API, a division of Gainesville’s Petroflex, produces parts for the Sea-Long made hyperbaric helmet that is set to be produced at a rate of 50,000 per week.

As a result, API is set to ramp up its production as well.

API produces a ring that attaches to the helmet along with the ports for the oxygen connections. Up until this point, those parts had been made sparingly.

API had previously produced 3,000 rings and 6,000 ports per year, but with Sea-Long’s projections of 50,000 per week, API is adjusting and aiming for 50,000 rings and 100,000 ports per week.

“They’re not set up to do 50,000 a week right now,” API injection molding manager Don Houston said. “As they ramp up their business, we’ve got promises from our mold makers and resin suppliers to continue to increase our production to match their needs. Sea-Long called me and asked what it would take. We’ll run 24-7 to produce that number. As they need more parts, we’ll increase our production with extra molds and extra personnel.”

The hood, which is being sold for $162 for the entire unit, is designed to create a sealed oxygen filtration chamber on the head to prevent any infection from outside air.

Sea-Long was contacted by the government to produce these hoods and wants to stockpile them so it won’t have to wait on them in the future, according to Houston.

It takes 55 seconds to make one ring, Houston said and API can make approximately 500 in an eight-hour period and around 800 ports in eight hours.

API General Manager and Vice President Jeremy Williams said the company is ready to meet the needs of Sea-Long.

“With our current equipment, we are ready for Sea-Long to ramp up their production,” Williams said. “We feel like we can supply the pieces they need at the rate they need them. We’re just glad to be a part of it and help out.”

API owner and President Pete Shauf said he was glad API could help out too.

“We’re so happy to be a part of perhaps the answer to this virus,” Shauf said. “We’re just thrilled to be able to help with it. It’s big for us and our community. For a small town like Gainesville, it’s good that we can be a part of the solution and not part of the problem.”

API is working with another local company in Valley View’s T&R Tooling to make the molds API needs for the rings and ports.

Houston said T&R is preparing to meet those needs.

“They shut down all their operations to do the four molds to put their full time into making the molds,” Houston said. “It’s supposed to be turned out in four weeks. The next step was the resin supplier and he promised we could have a truck load of resin every week and a half so we could run the 50,000 parts every week.”

Houston said it was good to see T&R and API coming together for the cause.

“They are going out of their way to help us out and the entire world out,” Houston said. “It’s nice that we have that kind of people in this area.”

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