a book sitting on top of a table

KI Industries pivots from decoration to function with life-extending mask-shields.

Noticing the shortage of PPEs in Illinois, KI began repurposing their machines in April.

  • Name: Mike MacLean
  • Title: President, COO
  • Company: KI Industries
  • Region: Chicago, IL
  • Industry: Manufacturing
  • Vistage Chair: Elisa Spain

Like many, KI Industries President and COO Mike MacLean struggled at the onset of the pandemic. His company, based 20 minutes west of Chicago in the village of Berkeley, has developed decorative plastic parts for appliances and cars since opening in 1964, suddenly a low priority for customers.

But KI, a company with a history of pioneering molding and other plastic-processing technologies, came up with a solution. Noticing the shortage of PPEs in Illinois, KI began repurposing their machines in April. The result? A two-piece shield that can be worn over surgical and N95 masks to extend their lifespan.

On May 1, KI launched KIshields.com, where customers could buy the mask shield. In addition to the e-commerce site, KI has pledged to donate a face shield for every one sold to local law enforcement and medical personnel.

"Our first responder community are on the front lines in this fight," says MacLean. "Anything that we can do to assist them, we will do."

MacLean added customers love the new shields, which are made of a light, bendable plastic polymer called Delrin, and come in two pieces that attach over the mouth and underneath the chin for added flexibility.

"We designed the shields to give them the adaptability to be used with a variety of different masks," says Mike McCratic, KI's director of engineering.

"The feedback we've received has been outstanding!" adds MacLean "Users have specifically commented on the high quality of the mask design and it's lightweight."

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