Ontario tech manufacturer creates new company dedicated to face shield production
April 7, 2020 by Manufacturing AUTOMATION
InkSmith, the educational technology manufacturer that has been producing face shields for frontline health-care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, has launched a new company to handle the production and distribution.
The Kitchener, Ontario–based company is called The Canadian Shield, and has the capacity to produce 50,000 face shields per day.
“Over the past few weeks, we have been extremely concerned about the critical shortage of medical equipment that our frontline health-care workers are facing during this unprecedented global pandemic,” says Jeremy Hedges, founder and CEO of InkSmith and The Canadian Shield.
“Using InkSmith’s existing tools and infrastructure, we realized we were in a position to help.”
With a 10,000-square-foot facility in Kitchener fully equipped with state-of-the-art 3D printing and laser-cutting technology, the team shifted its efforts from educational technology to protective face shields.
The first iteration, called the Community Shield, is a 3D-printed version designed by Czech Republic firm Prusa3D. It included a 3D-printed headband and reinforcement piece, clear protective face shield and an adjustable head strap.
In order to mass produce these shields to meet the current demand for PPE, the company switched to its own laser-cut design – the Canadian Shield – eliminating the need for 3D-printed parts, which are time consuming to produce.
These laser-cut shields can be washed and sanitized, reducing the overall cost on the health-care system.
Approved by Health Canada in March, The Canadian Shield has already started to deploy their face shields to hospitals across Ontario, including Joseph Brant Hospital, Grand River Hospital, Cambridge Memorial Hospital and Queensway Carleton Hospital.
Once the company is able to supply enough shields to meet the needs of Ontario health-care workers, the focus will be on accelerating its efforts to address the critical shortage of medical equipment across the country.
In order to keep up with the growing demand, The Canadian Shield has hired 60 workers, all of which were recently laid off as a result of the financial impacts of COVID-19. The company plans to hire hundreds of additional workers in the next few weeks.
“This is more than just a short-lived enterprise to combat the spread of COVID-19. We are making a long-term commitment to bringing Canadian manufacturing back to the Kitchener-Waterloo region and our hope is that we can help as many people as we can along the way,” says Hedges.
The Canadian Shield is in the process of opening a second manufacturing facility and will be exploring opportunities for global distribution.