A small custom and proprietary products molder near North Bay, Ontario, is helping to make personal protective equipment needed in the battle against COVID-19 and was recently honored for the effort.
North Bay Plastic Molders Ltd. was founded in 1985 to provide injection molded parts to the global mining, blasting, construction and plastic pipe industries. The company is owned by its president, Donald Champagne.
In March, NBPM moved into a new 20,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art factory in Corbeil, Ontario. The plant has six injection presses ranging in size from 85-500 tons of clamping force and currently owns 650 molds. Its products include pressurized shipping caps and dust plugs for the plastic pipe sector.
While still in the process of moving into the new plant, Champagne contacted provincial officials to let them know that NBPM had the capacity and ability to make thousands of components, on long production runs, for any urgently needed medical application on short notice.
The Ontario government had put out a public plea for manufacturers to retool to make essential equipment.
"We can do any part that a mold can be made for," Champagne said at the time.
In response, NBPM was asked to join a consortium to produce quality PPE. NBPM worked with the Innovation Centre for Advanced Manufacturing & Prototyping at Canadore College in nearby North Bay, and Javelin Technologies Inc., a 3D design and printing firm based in Oakville, Ontario.
The Innovation Centre, commonly known as ICAMP, has 3D printing capabilities and provides resources for companies to create products and conduct research. ICAMP used its 3D printers to make face shields for health care workers and first responders.
Shifting from 3D printing to injection molding allowed the partners to quickly ramp up production to meet high demand.
"The ProtectON face shield was developed and manufactured at NBPM. As a result, we are producing an affordable, durable, sterilizable and reusable face shield at our facility in Corbeil, Ontario, and have increased our full-time staff from six to 10," Champagne said.
"North Bay Plastic Molders Ltd. takes pride in its ability to attract and maintain a loyal and committed customer base through offering high-quality products and excellent customer service," he said.
For its efforts, NBPM received two regional honors this year: the North Bay Chamber of Commerce's 2020 innovation award and the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Northern Ontario Business magazine.
Meanwhile, NBPM continues to grow. Champagne said the company plans to add a 950-ton press in the near future. The company has annual sales of more than $1 million.