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Local manufacturer switching from Christmas lights to PPE

4 months 16 hours 54 seconds ago Friday, April 10 2020 Apr 10, 2020 April 10, 2020 10:29 PM April 10, 2020 in News
Source: WBRZ

CENTRAL - A local company that manufactures Christmas lights and decorations is now turning out thousands of face masks for healthcare workers and first responders.

You may have seen the Hohensee family home featured on WBRZ for their amazing Christmas light display each year. Their hobby has turned into a business that ships Christmas decor all over the world.

But now, their focus has shifted to producing much needed personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Boscoyo Studio in Central is used to making thousands of beautiful Christmas decorations and light displays year-round in their warehouse facility off of Greenwell Springs Road.

“We went from two CNC machines to now we have seven CNC machines that just make Christmas decorations every day. That’s all we do,” owner James Hohensee said.

Hohensee means that is all they used to do. He is now using those same machines and materials to help keep doctors and nurses safe as they take care of patients suffering from coronavirus.

“The first thing we started out with was one of our customers actually contact us,” Hohensee said.

That customer was 3D printing plastic headband clips that allow the elastic from N95 masks, and other face masks, to be wrapped around your head instead of behind your ears. James knew he could instantly start making these both quicker and cheaper than the average 3D printer.

“So from his 100 per hour and a half we can actually manufacture 1,000 per hour on our machine, with just one machine,” Hohensee said.

Another client then contacted Hohensee about face shields that he was producing, also on a 3D printer. Hohensee says it could take up to three hours for a 3D printer to produce just the headband for the face shields. 

He then got the idea of retooling and producing the reusable headbands and face shields that are in high demand, and doing it all at cost. 

“The face shields, I can’t make them fast enough. Right now we’re running at a capacity of about 700 units per hour when we have material,” Hohensee said. “And we made just a one-piece which has no rivets, no zip ties, no rubber bands. It simply just sits on top of your head and then we pair that with a piece of the clear ploy carbon which allows you to make the face shield. So you end up with a finished product, which is durable, it’s easy to sanitize.”

In total, they have put together around 10,000 face shields and 40,000 headband clips. Hohensee says that those production numbers are actually limited because the materials needed to make the face shields are in short supply. 

Orders have been placed and shipped right here in Louisiana, and all across the country.

“A local ambulance company has been buying them, and we’ve shipped thousands of them out. They picked up the last batch last night and it went straight to the airport and it went up to New York,” Hohensee said.

It may not be the same as making joyful holiday decor, but Hohensee says it is a small way that he can pitch in during this time.

“It’s not to make money, it’s really to help do our part. Like I said, we’re all in this together. It’s the thing I can do. I can offer my mass production services and do a lot more work then the 3D printing crews that are out there,” Hohensee said.

Boscoyo Studio says they will continue to produce face shields and headband clips for as long as they are needed. They are also making and selling signage with positive messages to spread some joy while people stay at home. 

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