CF- Coronavirus Nov. blog

Controlled Fluidics Helps Fight COVID-19

When a global pandemic hits, there are some professions you expect to become essential: doctors, nurses, pharmacists, grocery store clerks, helpdesk workers at Zoom, and…the employees at Controlled Fluidics.  That’s right. You may not have realized it, but COVID-19 has created a demand for plastic machined products, particularly those that go inside medical devices.

From the earliest days of the pandemic, Controlled Fluidics put safety and social distancing measures into place, but we couldn’t shut down or slow down production since our business supports multiple companies that are directly involved in respirator production and patient testing for the Covid-19 virus.  “There has been an explosion in demand for respirator parts. We have seen ten times the usual volume,” says Tom Rohlfs, president and principal engineer at Controlled Fluidics.  “For a while it was hard to keep up with the demand.”

The company also received an urgent call in the spring from a doctor at a nearby hospital who was down to his last two face shields, part of positive pressure face masks which are used by healthcare workers primarily when intubating a patient.  The intubation procedure presents one of the greatest risks of infection for any procedure that healthcare workers routinely perform.  The face mask assembly has a removable shield which can be discarded after every patient, preventing contamination and protecting healthcare workers’ wellbeing.

“I drove to his house and picked up one of his two face shields,” Rohlfs says. “My team and I examined it and reverse engineered it.  Within 24 hours we had a prototype face mask for him.  He approved the prototype and ordered 300 of them for the hospital where he works.”

After fulfilling that order, Rohlfs discovered that he had a lot of extra material left over, so he advertised more shields for sale to medical workers.  The response was tremendous; Controlled Fluidics was soon receiving calls from all over the U.S.  Orders ranged from just one shield for an individual nurse or doctor to ten shields for a clinic to 2,000 for an HMO giant.  The orders poured in; Rohlfs and his team were making the face shields as fast as possible.  “We went from never having even seen this product to producing thousands of them,” Rohlfs notes.

Controlled Fluidics also makes parts for a number of bio-medical devices: automatic liquid handlers, test plates, micro-titration plates, and other products.  Since testing is critical for tracking and controlling the spread of the disease, equipment used in the testing process is vitally important.  For example, most blood samples are automatically analyzed by machines today rather than by hand. With the volume of testing recently, those machines have needed a lot of parts, and Controlled Fluidics has helped to provide them.

Controlled Fluidics provides parts to a global provider of tools for accelerating genomic applications, including high performance magnet plates, temperature blocks, SBS tube racks, and microplate holders.  Another customer enables next-generation sequencing in the fight against COVID-19. Their technology is used to track transmission, conduct surveillance, develop therapies and vaccines, and ensure long-term global safety and security.

At a time when many small businesses are shuttered, Rohlfs feels fortunate that Controlled Fluidics can be so busy.  But even better, he is happy the company can play their part in fighting this disease.  “At a time like this, everyone wants to help.  I’m not a doctor, but it’s good to know that I can still contribute something important.”

If you would like to know more about Controlled Fluidics’ support for medical technology companies, contact us!