Local firm Atmis readies for production of Windsor-made PPE
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
The Windsor Star/Dave Waddell
With COVID-19 creating a scramble for personal protective equipment, a made-in-Windsor solution will be available by the middle of next month.
Atmis Protective Equipment will begin production on a surgical mask (C-3) and a C-95 mask, which is a civilian version of the N-95 mask.
In addition the company is taking pre-orders on its website (atmis.ca) for its Atmis Sphere plastic face shield with plans to begin shipping it in November.
“What we’re trying to create is a recognizable, trustworthy and better quality source for Canadian-made PPE,” said Atmis co-founder Trevor Pare, who has partnered with Harbour Technologies’ Andrew and Dave Glover on the project.
Having struggled to source PPE themselves last February, the Glovers pivoted their Harbour Technologies firm to fill an obvious gap in the domestic supply chain.
“Initially the idea was to just meet the demand for PPE because there was such a shortage,” Pare said.
“As we got going we said, ‘If we’re going to make it, let’s make it better.’
“People now are relying on shields and masks and are going to have to wear them for extended periods so they have to be comfortable.”
In the process the trio of owners have created one of the few vertically integrated PPE manufacturing companies in the world.
“I don’t know of anyone in Canada that is designing the product, building the machines and assembly lines, cutting the steel and fabricating it, manufacturing the product and then shipping it from under one roof,” said Andrew Glover, engineering manager of the family-owned firm.
The 20,000-square foot plant will be able to produce 22,000 Atmis C-3s per day, 9,000 C-95s and 2,000 Atmis Phere face shields.
The masks and shields being produced are almost entirely Windsor content other than some raw materials sourced in the U.S. and Turkey.
What the company doesn’t do itself, local mold makers and tool and die firms complete.
That has allowed Atmis to build a regionalized supply chain with duplicate sources that insulates the firm from future disruptions.
“Being in Windsor, we’ve tapped into all these excellent manufacturing resources,” Pare said.
“The speed with which we were able to design and make products and get them on the market is because of Harbour Technologies, where we are and the connections we have.”
However, Glover said the company’s focus on quality and product improvement is the real foundation of Atmis.
The clear plastic shields are three times the thickness of the thinner, more common versions.
The polycarbonate plastic is the same as used in safety glasses.
“It has all the same inherent properties as safety glasses,” Glover said. “It won’t scratch, the optical clarity of the lens is excellent, it doesn’t fog and you can put it in the dishwasher.”
The C-95 masks are similar to N-95s used in hospitals. Glover said the masks don’t have the N-95 certification yet, but are undergoing testing.
“We thought it’s a superior mask than the cloth and paper ones, so we decided to put it out for civilian use while it’s waiting to be certified,” Glover said.
The Atmis C-3 is a three-layer disposable mask for use in civilian and medical settings.
Pre-orders for the plastic face shields are now being taken at the company’s website. The masks will also soon be available for order.
The pre-ordered plastic face shields will cost $55 with the C-95s running $3-$5 and the C-3s about $1.
The company has received strong interest from the government, nuclear, agriculture, dental, education, retail and hospitality sectors.
The Ontario CANDU Nuclear Industries Association is holding a webinar Wednesday for its members to showcase Atmis’s products.
“We’re getting a lot of interest from teachers for the face shields,” Pare said. “Teachers and anyone wearing something for a long time where it’s important for the entire face to be seen have shown a lot of interest.”