Jeremy Hedges started a technology company called INKSmith four years ago selling educational toys for design thinking and coding to schools.

He said he never imagined he would be using that equipment to manufacture personal protective equipment for health care workers in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic.

Hedges said he currently has about 10 employees, but is looking to hire approximately 100 more workers as the company begins mass producing protective face shields.

After learning that Health Canada had approved his company’s prototype on Monday, the entrepreneur said he is now working with the federal government to laser cut as many face shields as possible.

“I think in the short term, we’re going to scale up to meet the needs of the province soon. After that, we’re going to meet the demands of Canada,” said Hedges from his company’s office in Kitchener.

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Hedges said he first heard about the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) from a friend who is a doctor and has been following the spread of the new coronavirus since January. It was not until Friday that he was contacted by the Kitchener Waterloo Academy of Medicine, a local chapter of the Ontario Medical Association, and asked if INKSmith could help.

“Honestly, I think we’re all inspired by it all,” explained Hedges, adding local citizens have been donating headbands made with 3D printers like the ones they sell after the company put out an ask on their website.