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Electronics Manufacturer Sparks Inspiration in NYC

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Manufacturers nationwide are answering our nation’s call and finding creative ways to support of the COVID-19 response effort—including at the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States.

Adafruit Industries, an open-source electronics hardware company based in New York City, has retooled their facilities to make two in-demand products: personal protective equipment for health care professionals and electronics for critical medical devices. Currently, the company is working with the New York City government as well as care centers like The Mount Sinai Hospital to deliver face shields, but they have also received requests for electronic components of essential medical machines, including motor controls and pressure sensors for ventilators.

In addition to the new products rolling off the assembly line, some of the items Adafruit was already developing are now being repurposed for medical needs. For example, the company produces thermal cameras and imagers the size of a finger that can determine the temperature of what they are seeing with no contact. Traditionally, these cameras are used for controls in heating, ventilation and air conditioning—but today, those sensors are being used in medical devices for contactless fever screening as part of the coronavirus defense.

Adafruit’s founder and owner Limor Fried highlighted the importance of clear communication with employees and staff—and credited Adafruit’s workers with pulling together in the face of ongoing challenges.

“I think that day-to-day consistency and clear messaging and the tools we have—masks, temperature checks, sanitation protocols—it’s just part of the job,” said Fried. “If you have really good people and trust and transparency, you can get the job done.”

Fried is also a 2019 STEP Ahead Honoree, a distinction conferred by The Manufacturing Institute—the National Association of Manufacturers’ workforce and education partner—to recognize women in science, technology, engineering and production careers who exemplify leadership within their companies. As the head of a 100 percent woman-owned business, she hopes that Adafruit’s role can help inspire young women around the country.

“There are little girls that are scared about what this pandemic is,” said Fried. “But they should know that there’s a woman-owned manufacturer working to combat this virus right in New York City.”

As manufacturers nationwide pull together to create medical equipment and deliver essential products, Fried is confident that the industry will be able to help the country overcome the pandemic.

“This is the epicenter,” said Fried. “But it’s also the epicenter of really tenacious, smart people who are going to see this through.”

“Across the country, the men and women who make things in America are delivering for their communities and their country,” said President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers Jay Timmons. “I could not be more proud of their incredible work or more grateful for their commitment to the cause.”

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