The following is an excerpt from the BetaKit article written by Josh Scott on July 21, 2020.
Kitchener-Waterloo-based personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturer The Canadian Shield has begun producing disposable surgical masks.
The Canadian Shield was spun out of education technology startup InkSmith in March, when it obtained a license from Health Canada to produce medical supplies. The company claims it has produced over 10 million shields face shields for frontline and essential workers across Canada since then.
Since March, The Canadian Shield’s headcount has grown from 10 to over 300.
The manufacturer aims to bolster Canada’s domestic supply chains and ensure the protection of Canadians from COVID-19 by producing one million surgical masks per week. The Canadian Shield also makes cloth masks and reusable face shields.
“We are proud to announce the launch of our made in Canada surgical mask lines,” said Canadian Shield founder and CEO Jeremy Hedges, who is also the founder and president of InkSmith. “We’ve acquired the tools and resources to ensure our nation is able to meet its present and future PPE requirements. Our company will not only protect Canada, but grow to be a world leader in medical equipment design and manufacturing.”
The non-rated surgical masks are currently available to consumers in packages of 50 for $34.95. The new product launch comes as municipalities across Canada have taken steps to mandate mask-wearing with bylaws and regulations.
Following further testing, the company plans to release disposable surgical masks for consumer sale that meet ASTM Level 1, 2, and 3 disposable surgical masks for consumer sale. ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, publishes voluntary consensus technical standards for a variety of products and services.
Since March, The Canadian Shield’s team has grown from 10 employees to over 300. Last month, it opened a 50,000 square-foot manufacturing facility, acquiring new equipment to expand its production capacity.
In the midst of COVID-19, InkSmith founded The Canadian Shield to address the shortage of protective gear for front-line staff in hospitals and medical facilities. The Canadian Shield specializes in reusable protective face masks. InkSmith develops products like 3D printers, virtual reality kits and headsets, laser cutters, and robotics kits.
“We’ve invested heavily in PPE manufacturing to ensure that we as a nation can withstand any future health threats while reducing our dependence on global supply chains,” said Hedges. “We’re doing this to keep Canadians safe, to create good-paying manufacturing jobs, and to be part of what we see as the beginning of a made in Canada revolution.”
“The team at The Canadian Shield has produced products that are nothing short of inspirational in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic,” said Iain Klugman, president and CEO of Communitech. “Their Made In Canada surgical mask line is an excellent next step that will help not only Ontario, but the entire world, as it recovers and reopens.”
In March, the Government of Canada committed new funding to procurement deals that fulfill PPE supply needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Canadian Shield was contracted to produce 10 million face shields for healthcare providers and essential workers by August. Earlier this month, it fulfilled those obligations and began selling reusable face shields to the public.
The shields are available for delivery across Canada through the company’s new consumer sales portal, and can be purchased in quantities of two, five, and 20.
In the next few weeks, the company also plans to begin manufacturing isolation gowns, with an estimated capacity of six million gowns per year.
Surgical masks establish a physical barrier between the wearer’s mouth and nose, and environmental contaminants. The Canadian Shield’s tri-layer masks are designed to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 by helping to block particle droplets, splashes, sprays or splatter that may contain viruses or bacteria. Its masks are regulated by Health Canada, and use Canadian filtration materials.
Over the next two months, The Canadian Shield anticipates its production capacity will exceed 200 million surgical masks annually.