Fabricator’s POV
More than 500 members joined in the first week, and tons of ideas are shared every day.
Luke Hansen-MacDonald,
AXYZ Automation Group
Fabricators work together to provide PPE to essential workers

s the COVID-19 respiratory virus continues to spread, people around the world are adjusting to a new at-home lifestyle—working, learning and spending time with friends virtually instead of face to face. Despite the required physical distance, many communities are stronger than ever. Neighbors check in with each other, support local restaurants and businesses, and sing and shine lights every night to praise healthcare workers, first responders and other essential employees.

As COVID-19 was becoming an international pandemic, AXYZ Automation Group (AAG)—comprising AXYZ Routers, WARDJet waterjets and CNCShop—created an online LinkedIn group called Fabricators Fighting COVID-19. The company had noticed that many of its customers were eager to help in the fight against the virus by fabricating solutions for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other safety supplies.

Strength in numbers

The group provides a forum to share ideas, designs and discussions, and allows AAG to connect fabricators with members of the community to fulfill specific safety requests. “We saw how many of our customers were beginning to retool their fabrication to produce PPE and other essential products,” says Luke Hansen-MacDonald, AAG’s president and owner. “The only issue is they were working in isolation. We decided to start this group to create a place for fabricators to share ideas, designs and calls to action. The reception has been great. More than 500 members joined in the first week, and tons of ideas are shared every day.”

Many of these fabricators do not typically produce PPE, he says, but they often serve related markets. “For example, we have many group members who produce retail displays,” like the stands with candy in them, typically placed near cashiers and along checkout lines. “These fabricators easily switched gears to start producing protective shields for grocery stores and pharmacies.”

Nurse wearing PPE administering mobile COVID19 testing
When COVID-19 became an international pandemic, fabricators joined the fight against the virus by pivoting to manufacture PPE and other safety supplies.

AROH, Inc., Simcoe, Ontario, has pivoted to begin producing face shields, using an AAG CNC router, and is supplying these to both public- and private-sector workers. AAG also has a customer with a custom six-head waterjet that is cutting N95 filters and other filtration products that will be going to the U.S. government and other essential workers.

Each fabricator has different machinery and materials available to them, which results in numerous ways to produce PPE, says Hansen-MacDonald. “For example, we have seen many different forms of face shields—made on a CNC router, waterjet, laser or 3D printer. Sometimes, they are made on multiple machines. I have even seen one design where the shield was hanging off the brim of a baseball cap. Problem solving is in the DNA of fabricators, so they are the perfect group to help.”

Connecting communities

Once fabricators have a design and the ability to produce it, they need to be able to get these safety products in the hands of those who need them. In addition to serving as a network for fabricators, the group also is “reaching out to different health authorities, government officials and essential services to let them know about us,” says Hansen-MacDonald. “We have connected fabricators with hospitals, government procurement teams and large grocery chains. We are doing this free of charge. My team’s goal is to help our communities and front-line workers. It is our duty.” 

One direct recipient was a national grocery chain, which sourced 5,000 protective shields for their cashiers across the country. “That was awesome because it kept essential workers safe and our customers busy.”

Want to join Fabricators Fighting COVID-19 and do your part to help front-line workers? Check out the group on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12386421/.

AXYZ Automation Inc.,

Burlington, Ontario, 800/361-3408,