InkSmith to hire 100 employees as it ramps up development of face shields for healthcare workers


Kitchener-based educational toy manufacturer InkSmith is creating personal protective equipment (PPE) to help healthcare workers stay safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. The company has developed two plastic face shields and plans to hire over 100 employees to meet demands from the health sector.

”As the increasing threat of COVID-19 becomes more prevalent, our team set out to find a way we could help and contribute.”

InkSmith typically develops edtech products, such as 3D printers designed and certified for use in education, virtual reality kits and headsets, laser cutters, and robotics kits. The company received approval from Health Canada on March 24 to manufacture PPE face shields.

The face shields, called the Community Shield and the Canadian Shield, are intended for single-day, single-person use. The Canadian Shield includes a laser-cut headband and reinforcement piece, a clear protective face shield, and an adjustable elastic head-strap. The Canadian Shield is available for mass production. InkSmith’s limited-quantity Community Shield includes a 3D-printed headband, and will be donated to underfunded hospitals and health care providers.

“Over the past weeks as the increasing threat of COVID-19 becomes more prevalent, our team set out to find a way we could help and contribute,” InkSmith said on its website. “We discovered that we’re in a position to use our existing tools and infrastructure to create PPE face shields for frontline hospital and health care workers.”

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Jeremy Hedges, CEO of InkSmith, said the startup is specifically hiring machine operators, assembly-line personnel, support, and administration. He said in a tweet that all employees will be given a living wage, a benefits program, and meal services through all day, evening, and night shifts. He added once they can produce enough face-shields for Canadian clinicians they will start helping others around the world.

Due to the fact that InkSmith employees are required to come into work during a period when social distancing is highly encouraged, InkSmith is ensuring the office has a doctor on staff, its own PPE, daily screening procedures, and strict protocols to ensure that employees stay healthy.

Other PPE initiatives that have sprung up in recent days include The PPE Drive, which asks those with unopened and not expired items, such as protective gloves, vented goggles, ear loop masks, N-95 masks or gowns, to fill out the form to have the donations sent to Toronto’s Michael Garron Hospital, which is calling for 10,000 visor frames. Hockey equipment manufacturer Bauer also received government authorization to produce protective gear for healthcare workers.

Image source InkSmith

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.