April 7, 2020Print | PDF
When alumni at educational technology company InkSmith reached out for parts, Wilfrid Laurier University answered the call.
Jeremy Hedges, CEO of InkSmith, transformed his KW-based company into one that can mass-produce personal protective equipment – something that is in need to help protect health care workers against COVID-19.
At first, Hedges started to manufacture 3D-printed face shields, but the process was slow. InkSmith even put a call out to the community in order to get the 3D-printed parts so the masks could be produced faster. He received nearly a thousand pieces from community members capable of 3D-printing.
Soon, InkSmith designed a faster way to produce a similar mask using several laser cutters to manufacture more masks, which is quicker than 3D-printing, allowing the company to make over 8,000 masks a day. This new laser-cut mask, which Hedges has named The Canadian Shield, has been given the green light by Health Canada.
With multiple units running around the clock, InkSmith was in urgent need for water chillers to cool the laser machine. So Laurier alumni at InkSmith, including Hedges and Denisa Dica, reached out to their mentor Ron Daniels, program coordinator at Laurier's Science Maker Lab.
He was able to quickly disinfect and deliver the needed parts to InkSmith to further boost their capacity to manufacture the protective equipment.
"Once you're a part of the Laurier community, you're always part of the Laurier community," says Daniels. "Even if you're a Laurier grad reaching out to staff, faculty or alumni, they're going to pick up that phone and help because that's how we roll at Laurier."
Daniels says that he wasn't surprised when he heard InkSmith was able to reinvent themselves quickly to fill this need. Hedges demonstrated his determination to change the world for the better when he first joined Laurier's business incubator LaunchPad, hoping to make 3D printer filament from recycled tires.
"Jeremy is a guy who thinks big," says Daniels. "He is a determined businessman; he'll do whatever work it takes to get where the business needs to go, but he's always wanted to do good for the world."
Since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, Daniels has helped those at InkSmith in the search for materials, lending equipment, and supplying them with operating procedures to help maximize their equipment.
Daniels has also offered his expertise in industrial process engineering to help InkSmith optimize their processes.
"We, here at Laurier, are very proud of the work that Jeremy and Denisa are doing, and we're happy to support them," says Daniels.
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