By Lynette Carrington

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute alumnus Zach Hines ’09 and his business partner Ryan Doherty founded optics company Ripclear in 2013. Seven years later, a deadly global pandemic forced Hines and Doherty to reassess their business model.

In early 2020, when COVID-19 was spreading throughout the U.S. and hospitals faced a devastating shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), Ripclear made a business pivot. The company repurposed their optical films manufacturing to PPE for frontline responders.

“It wasn’t much of a pivot, as we had rolls of plastic films for making face shields already on hand for production, as well as seven years’ experience in manufacturing optically clear eye protection that is FDA, ISO, and CE certified, and the full supply chain in place to guarantee deliveries,” Hines said. “All these factors really helped set us apart.”

Since March 2020, Ripclear has delivered tens of millions of face shields, face masks, and protective gloves to hospitals, dental offices, and health care facilities. As demand skyrocketed from hospital frontline responders, Ripclear also saw high demand from restaurants, hotels, schools, and facility managers.

“With all of the uncertainty out there, we’re glad we were able to contribute to protecting workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus fight,” Hines said. “And to provide guidance for industries less familiar with PPE on how to open safely.”

Ripclear’s V2 Face Shield has proven effective in protecting frontline personnel, including dentists, dental assistants, nurses, doctors, EMS workers, police, facility and operations personnel, and other frontline staff. The medically certified V2 Shield features high-performance optical transparency with dual sided anti-fog technology, allowing personnel to work safely and effectively while staying protected.

“We heard the needs of frontline responders and essential workers across the country, and are producing an optically clear, anti-fog, foam-padded face shield that protects against spray and droplet infection,” Hines said. “We hope to keep as many people protected from the spread of COVID-19 as humanly possible.”

Ripclear has also been developing strategic partnerships designed to get PPE where it is needed most, regardless of the industry. Some partners include Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan; Texas Children’s Hospital, CORE Response; Children’s Cancer Network; Portland Fire & Rescue; Protect AZ, as well as state and federal agencies across the country.

“The Ripclear face shields are truly the most comfortable protective shields that I got to wear during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Laura Gordon, a registered nurse at Beaumont Hospital. “I felt extremely safe wearing them as they provided maximum coverage to protect ourselves, yet allowed enough room to do our work while not feeling so confined.”

Ripclear has been providing optical components for years and will continue to do so in the military, outdoor, and fashion eyewear spaces. With the heightened sense of urgency in the fight against COVID-19, the company will continue to be a force in the medical and health care industries.

For more information about Ripclear, visit