The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has received its first shipment of N95 respirator masks that were manufactured by a Winnipeg company. It hopes to send out 20,000 masks to frontline workers by the end of the month.
Precision Advanced Digital Manufacturing has also produced reusable silicon N95 masks and 3D-printed nasopharyngeal swabs; its specialty is using 3D printing for medical, aerospace, energy and industrial sectors.
The Precision Air N95-level respirator, which can be reused as many as 30 times, was approved by Health Canada on Nov. 2 and deliveries to the WRHA began last weekend.
"It’s literally unheard of, when you think of these types of products — the mask respirators — to be manufactured locally," Precision CEO Martin Petrak. "It’s a very unique time, but we also feel a bit of the pressure to deliver."
The first delivery was in the hundreds, Petrak said, and as delivery ramps up, he expects thousands will be sent weekly.
"Now our challenge isn’t getting approval, now it’s the ramp-up, it’s the scale, it’s all those things that you need to do at a much quicker pace," he said.