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Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials (CEPEM)

The Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials (CEPEM) will assist research and development needs for Canadian companies, both existing and new, so that they can meet today's needs for Canada but also develop the next generation of personnel protective equipment to become global leaders in the future. 

About CEPEM

The CEPEM was established in response to a call from Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) to start local manufacturing of face masks and face shields due to the anticipated supply chain breakdown in March of 2020 caused by COVID-19. In just over a month, the CEPEM team provided design, identified suitable materials and developed validation tests so that local manufacturers are now producing 20,000 face shields/day (Whitebird) and 20,000 masks/day (Niko apparel) to supply HHS. In this process, the centre has also developed a testing facility that can assess various filtration materials for breathability (pressure drop), particulate filtration efficiency (PFE), bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) and fit testing.

Hamilton Health Sciences

Hamilton Health Sciences

Whitebird

Whitebird

The Woodbridge Group

The Woodbridge Group

Niko Apparel Systems

Niko Apparel Systems

Due to shut down of access to test facilities in the US for Canadian companies, we have served as a much needed resource for Canadian companies in validating their materials for use in face mask.

For example, we have worked closely with Woodbridge, providing them guidance on certification process and testing their material combinations to identify the best one for level 3 surgical masks. Woodbridge has now obtained formal Health Canada approval and has started producing these masks in their facilities in Ontario.

Our Vision

Our vision is to create the next generation of personnel protective equipment to become global leaders. The funding will establish the center as a core facility to assist the large number of new companies that are being setup in Canada to design and develop PPEs, choose appropriate materials and their combinations as well as develop and provide advanced technology that will make them leaders in the world.

Research and Development

To assist with the research and development needs for Canadian companies, both existing and new, so that they can meet today’s demand for PPE in Canada.

Global Leader in PPE

To create the next generation of personnel protective equipment to become global leaders. Taken together, this collection of infrastructure and projects will be unique not only in Canada but also in the rest of world.

Thematic Areas

The activities of the center are focused on the following thematic areas:

1. Design and development of PPE

1. Design and development of PPE

Existing PPEs such as face mask and face shields were not specifically designed for medical use and have dated designs that don’t incorporate latest advance in materials and manufacturing technologies. We will design and develop the next generation PPE that are customizable to the individual’s facial features, use the latest functional materials and incorporate the needs and requirements of medical professionals. We will also develop reusable PPEs that are capable of being sterilized and reused making them green and reusable.

2. Advanced Manufacturing

2. Advanced Manufacturing

We will work with Canadian manufacturers of PPEs in automation of operations for PPE manufacturing. In addition, we will also develop new manufacturing processes for meltblown, meltspun and electrospun materials to produce functional hybrid composites that will enable high performance PPEs. Small-scale prototyping equipment for melt blowing, meltspinning and electrospinning will form a core facility within the center.

3. Functional Materials

3. Functional Materials

The properties and performance of the PPEs are ultimately dependent on the materials used. Existing PPEs use commodity polymers such as polypropylene and polyethylene. We will assist new Canadian manufacturers of non-wovens to identify suitable polymer blends and additives that can provide additional functional properties such as antimicrobial, antiviral, self cleaning, air purifying, pathogen and chemical sensing, active water and blood repelling, humidity and thermal control.

4. Testing and validation

4. Testing and validation

A core facility within the center will be a well validated and robust testing facility that will be capable to performing assessment on barrier properties (air flow resistance, particulate and bacterial filtration efficiency, quantitative fit testing, aerosol distribution visualization), mechanical integrity (tensile, bulge, adhesion, pull, flexural and fatigue) and materials properties (microscopic structure, pore size, fiber uniformity, composition, leaching, degradation). This facility will serve as a resource not only for academic research but also for the local industry.

5. Standards

5. Standards

Current standards for PPEs such as facemasks of face shields are not intended or specifically designed with their medical use in mind. We will work with national agencies to define Canadian and international standards for testing of PPEs. In particular, we will focus on the medical use and collaborate with medical colleagues to formulate standards that would assess performance of PPEs under medically relevant conditions.

6. Sustainability

6. Sustainability

PPEs currently used are mostly disposable due to the fear of contamination between uses. However, being manufactured from polymers obtained from fossil fuels and incinerated after a single use, they contribute to greenhouse gases and eventually climate change. We will develop PPEs using natural polymers such as cellulose and with biodegradable properties that can avoid use of fossil fuels in their manufacture and limit their contribution to climate change.

Facilities

Testing

  • Airflow resistance test (breathability)
  • Particulate filtration test (latex beads)
  • Bacterial filtration test
  • Bacteriophage filtration test (in development)
  • Mechanical testing (elastic and attachment)

Manufacturing

  • Extrusion of composite materials and fibers
  • Electrospinning
  • Hot press
  • Lamination
  • CNC machining for molds
  • Xurographic cutting
  • Aerosol Jet Printing
  • 3D printing
  • Laser Cutting
  • Plasma system (embedding charges)
  • Corona discharge (embedding charges)
  • Meltblowing (to be acquired)
  • Meltspinning (to be acquired)

Characterization

  • Optical microscopy
  • Scanning electron microscopy
  • Material composition characterization
  • Contact angle measurement
  • Embedded charge measurement (in development)

Faculty of Engineering 

Hamilton Health Sciences & St.Joseph Healthcare

Imran Satia

Imran Satia

Medicine, St. Joesph Healthcare

 1. Design and development of PPE, 5. Standards

Catherine Clase

Catherine Clase

Medicine, Hamilton Health Sciences

 1. Design and development of PPE, 5. Standards

Mohamed Eltorki

Mohamed Eltorki

Medicine, Hamilton Health Sciences

 1. Design and development of PPE, 5. Standards

Prathiba Harsha

Prathiba Harsha

Research Development and Innovation, Hamilton Health Sciences

4. Testing and validation, 5. Standards

Bryan Herechuk

Bryan Herechuk

Hamilton Health Sciences

4. Testing and validation, 5. Standards

Myrna Dolovich

Myrna Dolovich

Medicine,  St. Joseph’s Health Care

1. Design and development of PPE, 5. Standards

Alison Fox-Robichaud

Alison Fox-Robichaud

Medicine, Hamilton Health Sciences

2. Advanced Manufacturing, 3. Functional Materials

Joe Hayward

Joe Hayward

Medical Physics, Hamilton Health Sciences

2. Advanced Manufacturing, 3. Functional Materials

CEPEM in the News

McMaster opens Centre of Excellence to advance personal protective equipment in Canada

June 29, 2020

McMaster opens Centre of Excellence to advance personal protective equipment in Canada

The Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials is a network of engineers, clinicians, manufacturers and companies dedicated to improving personal protective equipment products and supply chains in Canada.

How McMaster engineers are paving the way for new standards for medical masks in Canada

May 1, 2020

How McMaster engineers are paving the way for new standards for medical masks in Canada

Researchers at McMaster Engineering are rigorously testing surgical and N95 mask designs in innovative ways. Their goals? To equip the public with more protective masks, and ultimately create better masks for the next generation.

In the media: \'Brutal education:\' Inside the mad rush to make masks to battle COVID-19

April 3, 2020 / Source: Financial Post

In the media: 'Brutal education:' Inside the mad rush to make masks to battle COVID-19

Financial Post story chronicles how McMaster engineers are working “24/7” to churn out a product that up until two weeks ago they had no expertise in

McMaster researchers rally to help Canadian company expedite new mask to meet urgent COVID-19 demand

April 8, 2020 / Source: Brighter World

McMaster researchers rally to help Canadian company expedite new mask to meet urgent COVID-19 demand

Engineering and medical researchers at McMaster University have been racing to assist Woodbridge Foam Corporation in getting a new made-in-Canada mask designed, tested and certified, as supplies of existing medical masks become less certain.

MacEng arms the frontlines with masks: Faculty, students create protective equipment for healthcare workers

April 1, 2020

MacEng arms the frontlines with masks: Faculty, students create protective equipment for healthcare workers

McMaster engineers, physicians, students and industry partners join forces to create timely solutions to the high demand for more personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers. In the first part of the "MacEng arms the frontlines" series, we take a look at masks.

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