Healthcare furnishings manufacturer Shield Casework has already made a solid mark in the industry, despite its brief history. Founded in 2012, the Kansas-based firm is distinguished from other healthcare furnishings fabricators by its production of 100 percent solid surface casework for use in hospitals, labs and related environments.
The launch of the Shield Casework solid surface product line came about in 2011, the result of an R&D project by the Innovation Lab at Dimensional Innovations. Ironically though, cabinetry wasn’t the item initially intended for launch.
In an effort to reduce healthcare-associated infections, the Innovation Lab had developed an automated sink made of solid surface to improve the hand washing procedure by healthcare professionals. For the product demonstration, Stephen Hopkins and his team at the lab encased the sink in a cabinet made from the excess solid surface material. But while they liked the sink technology, the 15 healthcare product evaluators were instead won over by the solid surface cabinet, says Hopkins, now Shield Casework president.
The non-porous properties of the solid surface make it a natural fit for fighting bacteria and healthcare-associated infections. Other advantages of the material for casework, says Mandy Stark, brand manager, is that it is highly durable and repairable; Shield Casework will never rust or delaminate, and stains and scratches can be easily fixed.
Made from LG Hausys HI-MACs solid surface, Shield Casework is GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified for low emissions and can help contribute toward points for LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) accreditation, the company says.
Product design and manufacturing is performed at Shield Casework’s 10,000-square-foot facility, located in the Kansas City area. Currently the company has 15 full-time employees, though Hopkins says he expects that number to double by the end of the year as the popularity of the products continues to grow.
Included in Shield Casework’s product line are a wide range of sizes and styles of base and wall cabinetry including: single- and multi- door and drawer style units; sink, microwave, open wall and utility cabinetry; as well as shelves and desk options. In addition to the standard line of products, the company also offers custom furniture and architectural products, from headwalls to bed pans.
A 100 percent modular solution for any project, Hopkins says Shield Casework can easily be customized and reconfigured, opening up “hundreds of options” for designers and customers alike.
The manufacturing process has been optimized by Shield Casework to ensure the company maintains a high level of production with a minimum amount of labor. A Thermwood 3-axis CNC router is used to precision cut the solid surface to size and shape, while the bending, forming and joining of the substrate is performed using proprietary equipment.
Because the casework is chemically bonded at the joints, there are no seams or cracks for bacteria to penetrate, making the furnishings microbial-resistant, Hopkins says. Another healthcare-friendly feature is the radius corners on the units, which allows for edges to be easily cleaned.
Furniture for this environment is typically in use 24/7, which makes the durability of the products of prime importance, from the case construction through to the hardware installation. Within the production process, the company uses patented, embedded metal inserts to secure the hardware, resulting in very durable metal-on-metal connections, Hopkins says. Full-extension, soft-close slides are used on the cabinet drawers, while concealed and five-knuckle hinges are utilized on doors. A variety of pull style handles also are available on job orders.
Dozens of colors and patterns also are available, Stark says, though the majority of jobs recently have been specified in white, gray, beige and cream.
There is no job size minimum for orders at Shield. “We have orders in for $10,000 to $20,000 worth of work, and we’re also running contracts now for $1 million to $2 million,” Hopkins says. The turnaround time depends on the size and complexity of the order, with five weeks as the average.
Although the price point of solid surface casework falls between that of laminate and stainless steel, Shield Casework’s microbial- and moisture-resistant properties, combined with the products’ low maintenance and modularity features, make them popular among healthcare organizations — and designers — looking for long-term solutions, notes Hopkins.
“If you are looking at 15 to 20 years before replacement [of the furnishings], Shield is a better fit for the long-term conversation,” adds Stark.
In fact, the company is so sure of the quality of its casework that it offers a lifetime warranty for repair or replacement of the products if there are problems which resulted from a manufacturing defect.
Already, designers, architects and healthcare professionals throughout the nation are taking note of not only the quality, but the flexibility and versatility of the products.
In partnership with Cannon Design and Modular Services Co., Shield Casework will fabricate 242 canopy headwalls this year for the University of California San Diego Jacobs Medical Center. The headwalls serve as a technology center within the patient rooms, and will incorporate lighting, HVAC controls, nurse-call functionality and medical gas connections. They also integrate with the room’s solid surface bed and bench. Shield also is doing work on a related contract to produce solid surface elements for the hospital’s birth center.
Other recent projects by Shield Casework include: the cardiovascular operating room at St. Luke’s Hospital in Missouri, the Metabolic Lab at Arizona State University’s College of Nursing, the Low Cost Spay Neuter Clinic in Indiana, and the surgery recovery area at the Miami County Medical Center in Kansas.
To get the word out even more, Stark says the company’s marketing strategy includes website promotion at ShieldCasework.com, social media, videos and networking with designers and architects.
“The best path for us is through the design community; there is a constant thirst for new ideas,” Hopkins adds. The connection with designers and architects involves not only Shield Casework, but traces through parent firm Dimensional Innovations. Shield split off from Dimensional Innovations and became its own entity in 2012.
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