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Royal Canadian Mint retools to produce face shields, hand sanitizer

In late March, concerns of PPE and hand sanitizer shortages began to arise in Canada, and staff members at the Mint started exploring ways they could step in and help.
By: Madeleine Hall
April 16, 2020
Photo: Royal Canadian Mint
Photo: Royal Canadian Mint

The last time the Royal Canadian Mint retooled was during WWII, when it switched from producing coins to crafting parts for weaponry and gold medals. This time, it’s hand sanitizer and PPE (personal protective equipment) that Canada needs, and the Mint is meeting the need head on.

In late March, concerns of PPE and hand sanitizer shortages began to arise in Canada, and staff members at the Mint started exploring ways they could step in and help. Isopropyl alcohol, one of only three ingredients in the WHO’s hand sanitizer recipe, is kept at the Mint in large supplies as it’s used to clean coin surfaces prior to stamping. The team was able to source the other two ingredients, glycerol and hydrogen peroxide, and begin production. So far, they have ingredients on hand to produce 1,000 liters of sanitizer, which will be donated to local hospitals over the next month. The Mint’s collection of 3D printers also enable them to make plastic face shields for health care workers, of which they’ve produced hundreds in just three weeks.

“We’ve never done this before,” Fabrice Wong Chi Man, lead engineer at the Mint told The Ottawa Citizen. “But I think it’s in our core to innovate. Whether it be retooling for medical products or trying to stay current with the latest technology, it’s in us to do the best we can and provide that value back.”

Sources: The Ottawa Citizen, Twitter

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