Yellowknife company ArTech Engrave is now selling its own face shields as personal protective equipment (PPE) in the Covid-19 era.
Made of a plastic called polyethylene terephthalate glycol, or PET-G, the shields are intended for non-medical use in settings where people work in close quarters with others.
“(They can be used) in salons, spas, and for everyday use if people choose to use them instead of face masks,” said ArTech owner Jane Arychuk, on Monday.
Going for $20 apiece, her company has already sold about 120 shields to individuals and groups, including the NWT Disabilities Council and NWT Inclusion.
A total of 250 of the items were manufactured in Inuvik by the Arts, Crafts and Technology Micro-manufacturing Centre and shipped south to Yellowknife, where ArTech packaged them. Customers can assemble the shields at home.
The company, based in the Kam Lake area, worked with the Aurora Research Institute in Inuvik on a design that could be approved for use by chief public health officer Kami Kandola as a shield.
Kandola authorized ArTech and Poison Graphics in Hay River to create the shields that met Health Canada specifications, the GNWT said in a news release on Monday.
“We’re thrilled that we were able to come up with a design that works for non-medical use and that we can help out companies as they reopen and keep their staff and customers safe,” said Arychuk.
The new shields are part of a growing trend for producing PPE, sanitary items and other supportive devices in the NWT for use during the Covid-19 pandemic.
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At least 30 individuals and companies across the NWT are manufacturing such items, including face masks, shields, hand sanitizer and disinfectants.
The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI) is also offering assistance through its Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) program for companies and artists who want to manufacture PPE and non-medical masks.
Addressing the local production of PPE, Katrina Nokleby, minister of ITI, said buying locally is more important than ever.
“It is important for us to consider how much economic stimulus exists within our own procurement policies and practices,” she said. “Physical distancing measures are likely to be in place for a long time, and additional PPE will be required for many businesses as they prepare to reopen. It makes good economic sense for NWT businesses to supply this local demand.”