For over 42 years, The Strainrite Companies has designed and manufactured an extensive selection of top quality liquid filtration products, becoming an industry leader with a global presence. Incorporated in 1978, the family-owned company has grown and flourished. With over 75 employees and distributors throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia, Strainrite’s worldwide reach continues to broaden. Strainrite's corporate headquarters are located in Auburn, Maine.
Forest Wentworth, a Maine MEP project manager via sub-recipient agreement (SRA) with the University of Maine's Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMC) contacted The Stainrite Companies' owner, Alan Lapoint, about the possibility of using the company's filtration expertise for manufacturing alternative PPE, particularly high-performance cloth face coverings (CFC) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenges for Strainrite were transitioning from liquid to air filtration, establishing a benchmark via testing, design and network connections to the right folks within the Maine's medical community.
Our experience in collaborating with MEP/AMC has proven to very successful over the years and this project is no different. In working with MEP/AMC we have gained valuable information on PPE and how to create a value proposition to design other products for the long term. The short term CFC design was perfect for us and utilized existing equipment to provide a cost effective solution during this horrible pandemic. I look forward to continued collaboration into the future on critical process and product development projects.
Stainrite collaborated with the Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), part of the MEP National Network™, and the Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMC) to vet the application of Strainrite's liquid filtration technologies to air filtration. The MEP/AMC utilized standard respirator fit testing equipment to establish a simple yet effective way to compare the filtration and flow capabilities of a material to that of a N95.
MEP/AMC found that Strainrite's non-woven polypropylene spun bound material filtered as many particles as an N95 mask. MEP/AMC helped Alan and staff work through preliminary designs while using MEP/AMC's network to connect Strainrite with the medical community. Furthermore MEP/AMC were able to make inroads with state governing bodies including the Maine CDC, helping Strainrite understand the regulatory requirements for this type of medical device manufacturing and develop language to manage their legal risk.
The project has netted Strainrite a $50,000 boost in revenue amidst a struggling economy and helped ensure job security. Not only has this project benefited Strainrite but it has benefited the consumers by supplying 50,000 High Performance CFC of high quality just in time to fulfill mandated face covering policies. This particular project is a perfect example of how in tune MEP/AMC and their clients are enabling the seamless pivot and progression into a new market amidst a worldwide pandemic.