Nashville animatronics studio is making medical protective gear due to COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 5:38 PM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 10:24:29-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — You may not know their name, but you definitely know their work. Animax Designs in Nashville does animatronic work for all the big theme parks.

"Our work is seen all around the world," says Chuck Fawcett, President and CEO of Animax Designs. "Custom design and manufacturing of characters that are used for theme parks and visitor attractions."

Some of their most famous work, even after completion, is still top secret. "Oh gosh, if you’ve been to any Disney or Universal Studios theme park around the world you’ve seen our work, that’s as much as I can say about it," said Fawcett.

It's no secret that because of COVID-19, medical protective gear has been hard to find, so that got these creative designers thinking. "We just said wow, with all the collection of awesome resources we have from sewing to mold making to machine part making, there’s got to be something we can really contribute," he said.

So they fired up their 3D printer, about the size of your car in the garage. It can make 75 face shields a day. On the other side of the building, engineers are mixing a type of liquid plastic, then carefully pouring it into box molds to make hundreds more.

"We're going to try to make 500-600 of the face shields per week," said Steve Andersen, the VP of Operations for Animax.

So much of what they do at Animax Designs is based on technology, yet when it comes to making face masks, some things you just have to do by hand. Thankfully, they have a costume shop. They use that to make precise cuts and meticulous stitches, to ensure these masks are as close to medical grade as possible.

"We have a very well equipped costume shop with a bunch of very talented people in it and a lot of sewing equipment," said Andersen.

Because their mission may be to bring dreams to life, but their work now could help this nightmare come to an end.

"We’re now taking that same passion and energy and focusing on changing people’s lives in a different way," said Fawcett.

Animax Designs’ team is also looking into a way to make their own ventilators. They say if the Nashville region has a huge need for them, they’ll try to rise to the occasion.