The Road to Recovery

The past few issues of Products Finishing have touched on how different market sectors have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. As we come to the end of the year, PF editor-in-chief Scott Francis takes time to reflect on the manufacturing industry’s response during the COVID era and to contemplate finishing’s role in the medical sector.
#editorial #medical #economics


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Welcome to November. In many ways, it’s hard to believe we’re nearing the end of the year. For a lot of us, time has passed in a haze of days due to the lack of a normal schedule. In other ways — particularly after all 2020 has put everyone through — the year has seemed endless and we’re ready to hunker down for the holidays and just put it all behind us. I often find myself thinking of the social media memes comparing the year to the board game Jumanji, with new terror-inducing surprises springing out at us each month, from so-called “murder hornets” and self-propagating ticks to hurricanes and wildfires. Like the novel coronavirus itself, 2020 with all of its mishaps has run roughshod over our personal and business lives. The past few issues we’ve touched at least a bit on how different market sectors have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

electrocoating, ecoat, coronavirus

Giering Metal Finishing says its work electrocoating chest X-ray components has grown at least double during the coronavirus pandemic.  Photo Credit: Giering Metal Finishing

As we come to the end of the year, it seems kind of fitting to look back at where we were when this evolving story started. Products Finishing’s May issue was the first one I worked on upon becoming the publication’s new editor-in-chief in March. As I tried to get my bearings reporting on an industry that was new to me, everyone I spoke with was trying to get their bearings in an uncertain marketplace as tradeshow after tradeshow was canceled or postponed. PF’s May issue was to focus on SUR/FIN, which fell victim to the same fate. We pivoted our focus. We decided instead to address the overall spirit of SUR/FIN — the spirit of bringing an industry together. It was inspiring to look at the way different shops and suppliers responded to the COVID-19 emergency. Chemical suppliers turned their attention to producing much-needed sanitizers. Shops utilized their resources to produce personal protection equipment (PPE) for those on the front lines. We spoke with shops working to coat much-needed medical equipment, such as hospital beds and ventilator casings.

One of those shops was Giering Metal Finishing, who was coating ventilator parts as well as a centrifuge base that is currently seeing action in the ongoing quest to develop a vaccine. In this issue, we revisit Giering to hear about how it’s faired through the year and about its work electrocoating a heat exchanger for a chest X-ray system — work that has grown for the company as understanding of COVID-19 has evolved. (Read the full story here)

plating on plastic, electroplating

SAT Plating of Troy, Mich. uses a plating on plastic process to create a capacitive circuit that enables a temperature probe. (Read the story here)  Photo Credit: SAT Plating

As we contemplate finishing’s role in the medical sector, the ways in which finishing touches the medical industry are varied. From cosmetic liquid coatings on the housing of medical equipment to insulative coatings for electrosurgical instruments, it’s inspiring to consider the many ways that coaters and finishers are playing a role in healing and saving lives.

Our November issue offers an in-depth look at antimicrobial coatings — a topic that has been gaining a lot of interest in the midst of the struggle to understand and combat the novel coronavirus. PF managing editor Jenny Rush explores the ins and outs of antimicrobial coatings, from efficacy to regulatory concerns, and talks to several companies approaching the problem in a variety of ways.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaped our lives in ways that are difficult to imagine. From our economy to our daily routines, the implications of how this virus has changed our world are impossible to ignore. It is increasingly obvious that we still have a long road ahead in navigating this pandemic and working to recover from it. The pivots that companies are making to serve the needs at a community and national level continue to be important in ensuring hospitals have the supplies they need. And, from a business perspective, medical components make up a substantial part of the work many finishing shops do. If nothing else, the pandemic has brought to light the ways in which business, economics and the needs of society are all intertwined. It’s a reminder that we are, indeed, all in this together.