Sheet metal workers in Morton switch focus to make parts for medical masks

Local News

MORTON, Ill (WMBD) — Sheet metal workers in Morton are shifting their focus to help doctors and nurses by making thousands of small but vital pieces for medical masks.

Sheet metal workers at Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation, known as SMART, are assisting in the fight against the pandemic by providing important parts for face masks. Business manager, Bill Comstock says it’s a small part for a big cause.

“What they need is that little metal strip that allows you to kind of pinch the mask closed over your nose. So, what we have is o23 aluminum that we’ve been shearing to a quarter inch by three inches,” said Comstock.

Apprenticeship coordinator, Brian Heskett, says it takes two machines to make the parts.

“It’s a fairly simple process but it’s very strenuous because this is the only electric one we have. This one here is, well we made 14,000 pieces so that was 14,000 stomps of this here with your foot,” said Heskett.

Comstock says with the union switching some operations to create the metal pieces, first responders and medical workers can carry on with their jobs.

“That ability to do something instead of worrying or trying to figure out what’s going on, to have something to actually do that’s gonna help somebody makes a huge difference,” said Comstock.

Heskett says it’s not just work, it’s also fun.

“I enjoy doing that kind of stuff cause I’m a physical kind of guy, so I enjoyed it, these guys probably enjoyed it. Other people may not,” said Heskett.

Parts are even reaching beyond Illinois with a couple shipments going as far as Iowa.
Another 7,000 parts are ready to ship soon.

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