MANSFIELD -- COVID-19 has not stopped the entrepreneurial spirit, despite many Richland County businesses being ordered to close their doors.
Mark Hess, of Hess Industries at 108 Sawyer Parkway, and his team have created a new way for doors to open without passing the germs from one's hands on to the door handle's surface.
"It's a hands-free door handle attachment," Hess said. "We just wanted to come up with something different that could help people."
Hess said his team has industrial-grade 3D printers printing out the door handle attachments, which can be attached to any door handle. So far the product has been tested mainly in hospitals.
"When you grab a door handle, especially in a hosptial, there are germs and viruses on that handle that can be spread," Hess said. "We wanted to create something so you could open the door without using your hands."
Hess, who has filed for a patent, is donating the product to Avita Health Systems while working with OhioHealth Mansfield as well as other hospitals in Ohio.
"We are looking to make a plastic mold so we can bring our costs down and send these all across the world," Hess said.
Joel Delavern, plan operations manager for Galion Community Hospital, has received eight door-handle attachments. He thinks the product is exactly what is needed during this time.
"I told him, 'I think you're on to something,' " Delavern said. "I think one thing people may take away from this is how germs can be spread.
"This is a quality product. It's exactly what we need at this moment."
Hess said he would love to work with other local manufacturers to have the product made entirely in Richland County.
Hess is working with Nanogate Jay Systems in Mansfield to come up with a mold. It takes about 14 hours to print one handle attachment. Using a plastic mold could cut costs and increase production time.
"With Personal Protection Equipment being so important right now, we wanted to come up with a way that could salvage some of that," Hess said. "The idea was put together because there was a need to open doors without (hands) touching them."
Hess added the attachment comes off easily to be disinfected in a dishwasher or with any disinfectant.
"This will stop the spread of viruses throughout your whole organization," he said.