Chattanooga's Tuftco re-calibrates to make safety screens to fight coronavirus

Staff file photo by Tim Barber/ Tuftco Corp. employees begin assembly of a new tufting machine at the Holtzclaw manufacturing plant in this file photo.

A 60-year-old Chattanooga company that's a leading maker of tufting machines for the carpet industry is re-calibrating some operations to build safety screens to protect people from COVID-19.

Tuftco Corp. plans to make the screens using a Plexiglass-type of material and put it on wheels so it's movable, said Mark Harman, vice president of global sales for the company's Tufting Systems Division.

"We'll put it on rollers," he said. "You can roll them around and separate people."

The advantage to such mobility is that when the coronavirus crisis passes, the safety screens can be moved out of the way, Harman said.

"There's no commitment to permanent things like having to bolt a screen into a counter, for instance," he said. Attaching a screen to a counter can damage it, the company vice president said.