MONTREAL -- In more than 50 homes and workshops across Montreal, workers and ordinary people are teaming together and pumping out safety gear for the city's frontline health workers.

One movement calls itself the Protection Collective, with individuals using whatever equipment they have on hand to produce personal protection equipment.

Jordan Bowden has been using a 3D printer to make visors.

“Right now, we've produced 600 of these shields over the past, I would say, two weeks,” he said.


Bowden said the collective sends volunteers out to safetly collect the gear.

“Then we bring them to a centralized location where they are sterilized, assembled and packaged in a vaccuum-sealed pack,” he said.

The sterilization, assembly and packaging is done by satelittle manufacturer MDA Corp., the company best known for building the International Space Station's Canadarm. The face shields are assembled in a clean room designed for space craft assembly.

“We are offloading the burden of having to create a clean, sterile envionrment for assembly,” said MDA Corp. engineer Pedro Gregorio. “We're already taking advantage that our MDA facilities are already part the way there and our staff's very well-trained and used to spotting small defects.”

Bowden and his partners then deliver the shields to another collective, which donates them to hospitals and clinics.

Bowden said he and his colleagues hope to step up production.

“We've really started to ramp up production, but as we ramp up production we're realizing that we have challenges that are related to funding, finding the raw material itself,” he said.

He put out a call for donations and for partners who can supply those materials.

Bowden isn't alone in trying to help. Larger companies like Logistik Unicorp are retooling operations to meet the province's needs. The company, which designs and manufactures uniforms, has been approved by Health Canada to start overseeing the production of protective gowns and washable masks.