KITCHENER -- InkSmith is changing gears to help out front line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Kitchener company began 3-D printing and laser cutting face shields on Friday that they hope can be distributed to healthcare workers.

“It’s one thing to build it,” said president Jeremy Hedges. “It’s another thing to sanitize it and then package it and get proper approval for this stuff.”

The Cambridge native and Laurier graduate was originally contacted by a family friend and doctor in Cambridge who shared the idea.

The staff of InkSmith is typically involved in school programs and teaches problem-solving skills through innovation.

“We’re using an open source design out of the Czech Republic so they have tested it and verified it there,” said Hedges. “We still need to do that with doctors here in Canada but it’s a 3-D printable design that takes about an hour to print each visor.”

 Visors then need to be connected to laser printed shields and elastic headbands that are hand sewn in place.

“We had to go out and source some materials this morning and with some of the material stores being closed that had proven difficult,” said Jessica Braun, InkSmith marketing manager. “We stocked up on as much material as we could and we’re probably going to have to put calls for some more.”

The company only has one sewing machine, among other limited resources, and has employees who are in isolation.

“We got people working from home Skyping in who might be sick and are doing 3-D modelling and CAD design for us,” said Hedgfes. “Everyone’s doing a fantastic job.”

InkSmith plans to make their designs available online for anyone with a 3-D printer or laser cutter that can help out.

The company is also putting out a call for anyone who has sewing machines.

Their designs still need to be finalized by health officials.