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TN company manufacturing millions of glasses for eclipse watching

A West Tennessee company couldn't be busier today, and it's all thanks to the upcoming eclipse.

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Forrest Sanders
MEMPHIS, TN — A West Tennessee company couldn't be busier today, and it's all thanks to the upcoming eclipse.

They're playing a vital role in helping tens of millions see the big event safely.

"We've been marketing for two years, but we couldn't get anybody to pay attention," said John Jerit, making his way around the factory at American Paper Optics in Memphis.

Jerit knew something big was coming.

"Come January, it clicked," he said. "We'll be shipping them out all the way up until Aug. 18. Of course, the big day is the 21st."

Jerit said his company's site alone is getting a thousand orders a day for glasses to be used for viewing the eclipse. The company has handled many major projects before. In addition to making 3-D glasses for DVD releases, he said an order was placed for 134-million 3-D glasses to give away for a 2010 Super Bowl commercial. Still, the eclipse has generated the highest amount of consumer demand.

"Those sheets are running through there, and we're die-cutting the eye holes out," he said, walking past a machine taking in printed sheets of paper.

Jerit's company has a five-station process set up.

"Here's where we're gluing automatically the eclipse glasses," he said, motioning to a machine with a long conveyor belt. "The glue is coming off here. It lays a strip of film on the left and the right eye area. This is the eclipse material. It goes on through the machine, and it gets folded over. There's some quality control checking here at the end to make sure everything's registered correctly and everything's good. Then, you've got a nicely printed, die-cut and glued sheet. They're stripped out, rubber banded neat, ready to ship out.

"We're going to hit over 40 million glasses," Jerit continued, referring to the work they're doing on glasses for the eclipse alone. "We're in the last five million range here we're doing now."

Jerit said the eclipse project hasn't always been easy.

"You see knock-offs from Asia that are exact copies of mine," he said. "We noticed some of our designs showing up on Amazon sites that were not legitimate. The counterfeiters are copying our designs as well as putting our name and information on the back side. Putting my name on the back of the glasses is just so utterly, I don't get it. How can someone actually do that? It's frustrating because we've gone to a lot of effort to get our glasses certified, going through labs to make sure we get them right, both paper and plastic."

Jerit said those fakes can be avoided by buying from the company's site and their Amazon resellers. Jerit also advised his company's glasses have silver lenses on the outside that are black on the inside.

Jerit continued by saying the goal of everyone working at the building is to play a role in a major event and make sure as many as possible get to see it take place.

"This is for people to get together," he said. "What you want to hear from your kids after they watch it is 'when's the next one?' That's the emotion you want to create."

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