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Old 04-08-2020, 12:09 PM
AK84 is online now
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So why not make PPE out of garbage bags?


We have seen the social media stories of medical personnel having to use garbage bags in lieu of proper personal protective equipment. People were outraged.

That got me thinking. Why shouldn't we make them out of polythene? Its a strong, water-resistant material and most importantly it's cheap. Large volumes can be made by adapting the current bag production facilities and quickly.

While I get it won't be as good as the stuff which is ordinarily used, there are different levels of exposure and risk. This could be issued to personnel not seeing Covid patients and to people like the administrative staff. Saving the high-quality stuff for those who really need it.

Last edited by AK84; 04-08-2020 at 12:10 PM.
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Old 04-08-2020, 12:50 PM
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There are many different types of PPE - face masks, goggles, respirators, gloves, etc. I assume we are talking about isolation gowns here? They are made of polyethylene, at least some of them.
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Old 04-08-2020, 12:55 PM
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Firstly, I'm no expert, I can contribute only educated guesses. I believe you are right that the basic materials needed for personal protective equipment are common, plentiful and cheap, like polythene. I think the problem is this adapting of the production facilities. The equipment of mass production factories is itself not mass produced. Many industrial equipment has long economic lifetimes, for example twenty years. Getting new production equipment is normally a slow process, taking many years. Machinery producers do not have machines in store waiting for customers, they start producing only after a customer has placed an order. If one orders new production machinery, or just parts to modify existing machinery, one cannot get it a few days later, because this machinery has to be designed and produced, tailor made, which takes time.
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Old 04-08-2020, 04:51 PM
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Anyone that has used a trash bag as a makeshift rain poncho knows the answer. They don't breathe AT ALL.

Disposable medical gowns are not waterproof, nor would you want them to be...they need to breath. The existing ones get to be over-warm fairly quickly.
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Old 05-12-2020, 07:43 AM
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There are different kinds of PPE, but at the cheap disposable end, the difference between PPE and garbage bags is that garbage bags come in all different thicknesses, and don't have elasticized wrist bands.

There is an enormous difference in the cost of making standards-compliant medical equipment and making garbage bags. Almost none of the cost is in the material or manufacture.
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Old 05-12-2020, 11:48 AM
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Our local bag producer is now maling gowns, so there you go.
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Old 05-17-2020, 08:38 PM
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They are, sometimes. It's making them fit correctly that's one of the main issues. Not a lot of point in PPE that has lots of gaps.
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Old 05-17-2020, 09:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TemporalFix View Post
Firstly, I'm no expert, I can contribute only educated guesses. I believe you are right that the basic materials needed for personal protective equipment are common, plentiful and cheap, like polythene. I think the problem is this adapting of the production facilities. The equipment of mass production factories is itself not mass produced. Many industrial equipment has long economic lifetimes, for example twenty years. Getting new production equipment is normally a slow process, taking many years. Machinery producers do not have machines in store waiting for customers, they start producing only after a customer has placed an order. If one orders new production machinery, or just parts to modify existing machinery, one cannot get it a few days later, because this machinery has to be designed and produced, tailor made, which takes time.
Just to expand on this with a personal anecdote: my parents run a small manufacturing business that normally has nothing to do with medicine, but they've started making face shields and other types of PPE for a local hospital. So it's possible, but it involved a LOT of back-and-forth to communicate the specs, develop a good prototype, and then start manufacturing and distributing. And they had a key advantage: the guy who originally founded the company and still holds a minority share left to become a doctor--so he really understands both worlds and helped set this up. As a small business, they've also got a couple clever engineers who are used to wearing a lot of hats, which helps too. I imagine they're not the only ones doing this.
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Old 05-17-2020, 09:48 PM
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Uh, for the same reason you don't wrap Saran wrap around your dick and call it a condom?
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