Locally-designed reusable face shields designed with feedback from front-line workers are going into mass production at North Bay Plastic Molders next week.
As many as 20 new jobs will be created just to package the potential one million units a month that could be produced if worldwide marketing is successful.
“The ProtectON face shield can be sterilized and reused, which is a big improvement over other designs, reduces personal protective equipment costs and ensures we are doing our part to protect the environment, said Donald Champagne, president of North Bay Plastic Molders.
“Together we have designed a product that is superior to anything on the market … and it’s not made in China."
The partnership that made it possible was celebrated Sept. 25 at Champagne’s facility in Corbeil, east of North Bay, which will begin making 150,000 units a month beginning Sept. 28.
Already an international supplier of engineered molding products, he said they have the capacity of making one million shields a month.
East Ferris Mayor Pauline Rochefort congratulated everybody for joining forces for the project and noted pride in the fact it was being produced locally.
She earned laughs and applause by pointing out it the East Ferris logo is missing beside the made in Ontario and Canada symbols on the marketing materials.
Connor Janeteas of Javelin Technologies, a southern Ontario 3D solutions company, described how the product was born at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our team started creating 3D-printed prototypes early on in the pandemic to address the urgent need for locally produced PPE,” Janeteas said.
“Though additive manufacturing was fantastic for development and initial production, we knew that moving to traditional manufacturing technology would improve production economics and ultimately, keep more Canadians protected.
“Fortunately, Javelin has a 10-year relationship with Canadore College and ICAMP, which has become a force for bringing ideas to market, and they coordinated bringing a team together.”
ICAMP is the college's advanced manufacturing innovation centre.
He said ProtectON was developed with feedback from clinicians and frontline workers and manufactured to meet or exceed CSA and ANSI standards.
TWG Communications created the marketing materials and ProtectON website.
George Burton, Canadore president, said iCAMP’s purpose is to help businesses meet the needs of the marketplace and they helped bring the ProtectON partners together while supporting them in design, development and testing.
Funding support came from the province and federal government, he said, citing FedNor and Ontario’s Response to Innovation Fund as well as contributing clients. The four components that will be packaged for shipping and assembled by the end user, which cuts down on the number of hands on the product and ensures all materials are clean and safe to use out of the box.
Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli and Nipissing-Temiskaming MP Anthony Rota also spoke at the event. Rota joined in via Zoom teleconference from his Ottawa office.
“It’s really a team effort, with people coming together,” Rota said, noting the majority of the materials used in production are sourced in Ontario.
Fedeli highlighted how North Bay Plastic Molders pivoted from its production of mining products sent all over the world to produce the much-needed PPE during this challenging times. “That’s the innovated spirit … this is the Ontario spirit,” Fedeli said.