The Call to Action released by the Government of Canada resonated deeply with INPS’ values. INPS believes that as a company we are stronger when we work together. We knew that critical personal protective equipment (PPE) was so much needed to help fight against COVID-19.
Supplying Critical PPE
As a manufacturing company with facilities and equipment that can be rapidly re-tooled along with highly skilled workers, INPS shifted focus to supplying critical PPE to essential businesses, medical personnel, and front-line workers. By using existing in-house resources and capabilities, INPS’ engineering team designed and developed face shields as they carefully selected quality materials. The goal was to create a robust, durable product that is:
- Comfortable when worn
- Provides protection against liquid splashes
- Easy to be cleaned
- For multiple uses
Solutions during the road of development
1. Sourcing polycarbonate was not easy even with INPS’ established supply chain. The face shield design called out for 0.015” thick gloss polycarbonate to provide durability and excellent clarity. Due to the traditional products INPS manufactures for other industries, we did have some polycarbonate in stock, but needed to buy more. Despite difficulties, we managed not only to line up more material, but also to support a local company in the acquisition of the same polycarbonate, as they were joining the journey of making face shields themselves.
2. The straps were designed to be made out of elastic material latex-free, to prevent potential latex allergic reactions. Not many options were available on the market and this material was not one that we commonly used. Through team work and persistence, the engineering group successfully purchased a few different types, both latex-free elastic bands, one inch wide, flexible, stretchable, wear-resistant, and welcoming to the touch.
3. The padded brow guard had to be curved and soft, therefore we looked into designing appropriate molds to produce this piece by using a thermoset injection process. We adjusted material ratios to ensure the foam piece was soft, light and would provide the much-needed comfort for long hours of wear by front-line workers.
4. The opportunity to brand the shield and provide brief bilingual information about the product, on the shield itself, came along with our digital printing capabilities. We have allowed for two colour printing and printed the top part of the shield on our Vutek flat-bed digital printers. The shield was then cut to shape and size on the Zund machines, a versatile flat-bed digital cutter.
5. While designing the product and the process, Aegis, a long-acting antimicrobial product was part of our discussions. We worked with our partner, Protect Technologies, to sort out the cost and methods. Coating with Aegis was added to the process, to protect surfaces from harmful microbes.
6. Packaging materials, plastic bags for individual packaging, cardboard boxes, and labels for bilingual product identification were all looked at from the initial stages. Bilingual directions for product use, cleaning, and maintenance guidelines were also developed to help the end-users. Our application for a license with Health Canada, required to manufacture and sell face shields, was approved on March 27th and our first face shield was sold a few days later.
Along with the face shields, INPS had the opportunity to help the medical front-line workers with designing and producing ear guards. Ear guards are a surgical mask holder that helps provide comfort to personnel wearing surgical masks for extended periods of time. We produced, delivered, and donated over 10,000 ear guards to multiple locations within our region. It felt great to give back to the community.
INPS continues to make products to fight COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic has inspired Canadian organizations to work together to get through this unprecedented time. INPS now carries two face shield visor lengths, 9.5 inches and 8 inches. Their face shields are being used by essential workers throughout North America.