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April 16, 2020 9:23 AM

Conestoga grad company to help with respirator mask production

Eclipse Automation has announced an exclusive agreement that will see equipment from Harmontronics Automation in China needed to produce N95 masks brought to North America. It is anticipated that the agreement will expedite the production of respirators to feed into the health care supply chain and into the hands of North American health-care professionals.

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Eclipse Automation -- co-founded by Conestoga graduate Steve Mai -- has announced an exclusive agreement that will see equipment needed to produce N95 masks brought to North America, expediting the production of respirators to feed into the health care supply chain.

A leading supplier of custom automated manufacturing equipment, Eclipse will now be able to manufacture, sell, distribute, service, commission and modify the Harmontronics fully automated N95 Vertical Flat-Fold Mask Production Line system. The companies have initiated investment for an initial production line to be installed in Eclipse’s Cambridge location and put into operation within four weeks. Working with North American manufacturers, the system will be used to customize equipment for specific needs as well as support qualification efforts for various respirator designs.

“I am seeing a lot of companies -- with the best intentions -- trying to get into this arena, but without the experience in medical device automation, they may be chasing inferior systems that could be unsafe to run and produce faulty masks,” said Steve Mai, Eclipse president and CEO. “Eclipse has the know-how to assess this system already producing N95 masks in China and see that any modifications required to meet North American specifications are done quickly and right. We can expedite this to provide a top-notch N95 mask automation system and lead the process to see that it can be scaled to all who need it.”

The Public Health Agency of Canada is anticipating a shortage in personal protective equipment (PPE) across the country for front-line workers, including the N95 respirator mask. Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 89 million medical masks are required for the COVID-19 response each month. In March, WHO called on industry and governments to increase PPE manufacturing by 40 per cent to meet rising global demands.

Implementing Harmontronics’ automation process in Canada enables Eclipse to facilitate mass production of N95 masks, fighting the shortage crisis and helping ensure local needs are met.

Mai, a 1993 graduate of Conestoga’s Tool & Die Maker Apprenticeship program, co-founded Eclipse in 2000. The company delivers state-of-the-art solutions to various industries, including life sciences, through automation technology and project experience. In 2014, Mai was recognized as a Conestoga alumnus of distinction for his contributions to the community and industry, and represented the college at the Premier’s Awards as a nominee in the Technology category. 

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