Gilero’s Pittsboro, NC Facility Shifts to Face Shield Manufacturing

This article was written by Zachary Horner, Chatham News + Record Staff, and published in Chatham News + Record. The full article can be found here.

PITTSBORO — As companies and businesses around the world shift their production focus to making products designed to help fight the spread of COVID-19, a Pittsboro-based medical device manufacturer is doing the same.

Kaitlyn Shaffer, the marketing communications manager for Gilero, said the company’s employees are working nights and weekends to assemble 3D printed face shields to serve as personal protective equipment. The shields will be shipped to health care facilities requesting them.

“As a company that designs, develops and manufactures novel medical devices, we have a talented team of engineers and in-house resources such as labs, a machine shop, white rooms and cleanrooms,” Shaffer said. “Typical Gilero projects are more complex than the face shields we are currently working on, which means that creating CAD files, 3D printing components and assembling these shields was a simple shift from the work we’re already doing.”

The company is relatively new to Chatham County — with construction work on re-using the 158 Credle St. property in downtown Pittsboro done last year and operation under way soon after. Shaffer said the building was set to come online this year to manufacture “several medical devices,” but employees have been dedicating time to this new function as well, all while being “still 100 percent dedicated to our regular customer projects.”

Gilero designed CAD (Computer-Aided Design) files for the face shields and made them publicly-available, meaning that the company is manufacturing shields using parts made both in-house and by “a number of generous companies and individuals,” Shaffer said — at this point 10-15 different parties. The company chose 3D printing because it has a quick turnaround time and is more cost-effective than the traditional injection molding approach. However, prototypes for injection molded face shields are also in progress and will greatly increase the volume of shields that Gilero can produce.

This kind of innovation is something Alyssa Byrd, the president of the Chatham Economic Development Corporation, said she was excited about prior to Gilero’s arrival, and referenced now.

“They’re planning to create at least 60 jobs, which will have a great economic impact on the downtown area with employees shopping and eating nearby,” she said of Gilero. “They are creative and innovative, as this recent development shows, and that blends perfectly into the culture of Chatham County.”

The shields are available to healthcare facilities facing PPE shortages. She added that the company and its employees are also working on “several COVID-19 related projects,” including an emergency ventilator.

“The time and effort put in by the Gilero team has been on a strictly volunteer basis,” Shaffer said. “The overall attitude we’re seeing from our people is that they want to do their part and make a difference however they can.”

The CAD files for 3D printing face shield components and assembly instructions are available online at grabcad.com/library/3d-printed-face-shield-1.

This article was originally published in the 04.03.20 issue of Chatham News + Record. It has been edited for clarity.