New York Reseller Teams Up to Provide PPE

OptiPro, located in Ontario, New York, has served the greater Rochester area over the past 35 years by providing software and precision machine tools to its many manufacturing customers in New York. OptiPro doesn’t just support its customers, though; it also supports its community.

When many businesses were closing in response to COVID-19 regulations, OptiPro was deemed essential and was able to stay productive. Those on the OptiPro team who could work from home did, and those who worked in the company’s shop continued producing for their customers while practicing social distancing and wearing masks.

In April, personal protective equipment was in high demand everywhere, and medical personnel was struggling to find gear like face masks and safety glasses. The team at OptiPro leaped at the chance to help and immediately gathered up all the safety glasses they had. They donated the glasses to a nearby hospital where OptiPro President Mike Bechtold’s daughter works as a nurse.

Bechtold didn’t want to stop there, though. He reached out to his brother’s business Harbec, a custom injection mold company also located in Ontario, about teaming up to create and donate more safety glasses. Together, they decided that OptiPro would create the mold for the glasses and Harbec would handle the injection process.

Vince Cannarozzo worked in the mold-making industry for years before becoming a technical sales associate at OptiPro. When Bechtold asked Cannarozzo to head the safety glasses project, he was more than happy to return to his roots. He was thrilled to find many others who were just as excited to help.

“I found a design online and modified it to be exactly what we wanted to put out. I asked my mold designer friend, Rocco Pizzarello from Century Mold, to help with that process. Steve Gerrard, my tooling vendor form Mitsubishi Metals, gave us a ridiculously low price for the project. I feel like I cashed in all my chips with everybody I knew; everyone contributed and seemed happy to do it.”

After discussions with Pizzarello, Cannarozzo agreed that 420 Stainless Steel would work best. Rick Fox, the mold shop leader at Harbec, was able to supply a mold base to use to produce the parts. Harbec also helped with the assembly and set up in the molding machine. Once that was decided, it was on to the programming. Using Mastercam’s OptiRough, OptiRest, and Constant Scallop toolpaths for finishing, the team was able to produce the 4 blocks in 46 hours.

While everyone at OptiPro wants their local medical teams to have PPE as soon as possible, their biggest concern is making a safe product. All safety glasses need to hold up against safety standards to be certified. “We don’t want to call our glasses ‘safety glasses’ and then have someone get hurt,” said Cannarozzo.

That’s why the glasses are tested in Harbec’s facilities for quality. Cannarozzo shared, “The first test is to put the glasses under polarized light. That highlights the stressed area of the plastic; the more stress there is, the more the plastic will look like a rainbow.” During testing, the crew was pleasantly surprised to see that the OptiPro-Harbec glasses outperformed other glasses on the market.

The final product will have blue sidepieces with OptiPro’s logo on one side and Harbec’s on the other. Each pair will be bagged immediately to protect the glasses from scratches and undue stress during transportation. Cannarozzo estimates that once production begins, OptiPro and Harbec will be able to produce more than 1,000 pairs of safety glasses each day. “We’re going to keep making them until they tell us to stop,” he said. “It just feels good to be able to do something to help other people.”