Plexiglass Is Having a Moment
As we redesign a new world partitioned by plexiglass, the industry experiences whiplash
Suddenly, plexiglass is everywhere. In March and April, grocery stores and drug stores rushed to install sneeze guards at registers to protect their workers and the public. Now, as businesses look to reopen in this new world of social distancing, the transparent partitions will soon become as ubiquitous as trash bins.
There’s nowhere, it seems, that plexiglass won’t be: Offices are looking at adding the clear barriers between desks, perhaps even in between sinks in corporate bathrooms (as Toyota is planning to install). Plexiglass is being added in restaurants between booths, in nail salons to separate the nail techs and their clients, and in some movie theaters that plan to reopen next month. Plexiglass might eventually be coming to the skies: One Italian design firm reimagined airline seating with clear partitions between passengers. And we might even get acclimated to it at the beach: One manufacturer has drawn up plans for transparent cubicles that will (allegedly) protect sunbathers.
Jason Reyes, a managing partner at Calson Management, a California-based senior living provider, has spent nearly $3,000 on plexiglass in the last month. “I had been getting a lot of phone calls, families missing their loved ones,” Reyes says, explaining that to protect vulnerable residents, his facilities had to stop visitations. “We started thinking about how to bring people face to face and still keep them safe.” He constructed a cubicle that could separate residents and visitors, or as he calls it, “120 square feet of plexiglass safety.” Now three of his seven California facilities have their own plexiglass cubicles. “We’ve had so many emotional responses,” says Reyes. “We had residents who thought they wouldn’t see loved ones on their birthday, and we bring them together and there’s lots of tears.”
“Our production is running in four shifts around the clock.”
All of this new demand for transparent shields means that the humdrum plexiglass business has suddenly become a hot industry. “We’re up over 200% [in sales] from this time last year,” says Russ Miller, manager of TAP Plastics, a plexiglass…