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How One Manufacturer Invented a Portable Clean Room

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How do you keep health care workers safe during COVID-19? It’s one of the most crucial questions of the pandemic. One manufacturer came up with an answer: build them portable booths that mimic clean rooms.

Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope–a company that manufactures glazed products like windows, storefronts, and safety glass—has created a small glass enclosure that shields a health care worker from patients while allowing her to do her job.

The company thinks it could be a gamechanger—by decreasing health care workers’ exposure to the virus and greatly reducing their need for personal protective equipment (along with the time spent changing in and out of it).

How it works: The booth’s modular glass system is easy to clean and assemble. It features:

  • Built-in gloves that allow health care workers to examine patients without exposing themselves.
  • Positive air pressure to keep outside air from filtering in.
  • A powerful filtration system—backed up with the company’s airtight window technologies—that keeps the air inside clean and safe.

How they built it: It was a Herculean effort—the company crammed a development process that normally takes a year into a monthlong sprint.

  • On March 23, the idea was hatched.
  • Four days later, OBE came up with seven potential designs, then reviewed them until they found the best one.
  • Within three weeks, the company had purchased parts, treated materials, and built two working prototypes.
  • Less than 29 days after the idea was first discussed, OBE manufactured its first booth.

What’s next? OBE has submitted its designs to regulatory authorities, including the FDA. Once the design is approved:

  • Within two weeks, the company expects to start production of its first orders
  • With more than 80 locations in the US and Canada, OBE could deploy the technology across North America.

And there’s more…The booth could even feature in the reopening of the economy. OBE has designed a second version for workers who need to be in close proximity without contact, like ticket takers at movie theaters, sports venues and airports.

Here’s another question: what’s one of the most important forces helping to save lives during the pandemic? Answer: manufacturers’ ingenuity.

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