About the Brand
General Civilian™ is a brand for the people. Through innovation in design and local production we are developing new standard issue gear. We launched in June, 2020 and introduced our first minimum viable product, the RS-1, as the COVID-19 pandemic shifted from emergency production to a general return to work.
We set out from the beginning to secure local design, local production and local supply chain. We believe in innovation, advanced manufacturing and local partnerships. That's why the General Civilian RS platform is Made in Canada at Custom Plastics International Ltd in Cobourg, Ontario (in continuous operation since 1965).
The RS-1: Background
When the Province of Ontario issued its emergency declaration, the response of members of our team was to first focus on face shield production for front-line workers. This two-month long project involved the formation of a grassroots network of makers and manufacturers called northumberland.io, dedicated to donation-based and volunteer-driven emergency production of Prusa open-source design RC3 face shields for front-line workers in our community .
Through daily co-operation and interaction with industry partners, the General Civilian team became involved in a second separate project to develop an injection-molding solution for the 3D-printable Montana Mask, a US-based charitable effort which included the team at Custom Plastics International in Cobourg. While industrial respirators are already ubiquitous and (during normal times) commercially available, user-created 3D-printable variations were being shared around the world, influenced by the urgent need to respond locally to COVID-19. A fully distinct and separate design was put out by the Montana-led group, with direct engineering and design input from our partners, and others across North America. The design diverged again with our improved mold and manufacturing solution. Where the initial focus of the Montana-led group was selling units at cost as emergency supply to the primary healthcare sector, that demand has receded. Responsible renormalization and re-opening of the economy has posed a new set of challenges.
Our attention turned away from charitable emergency production of personal protective equipment for hospitals to the question of how to actually fund larger-scale manufacturing and guarantee supply of durable, reusable and adaptable facial coverings for workers in different phases of pandemic management. We decided to try to design and introduce an intermedia product category: a non-medical FFR (Filtering Facepiece Respirator) that was better than a surgical mask but a step below N95 (which is reserved for frontline emergency and healthcare workers). Therefore we aimed to push our MVP to achieve 95PFE certification, working with all collaborative engineering and manufacturing partners in Ontario. The RS-1 represented our drive to produce enhanced mask solutions for industrial workers, inspectors, and other institutional and government personnel.
We submitted an application to Health Canada on January 31, 2022 and while we have currently paused our applied engineering, we hope to announce very soon where the RS-1 program will go next. Please be sure to sign up for our newsletter for further updates.
General Civilian is grateful that we were selected by Innovative Solutions Canada (COVID-19 Testing Stream) in January, 2022, to work with Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in laboratory and real-time operational testing of the RS-1 on a potential pathway to full certification and commercial adoption of our innovation, and for all of the support we recieved from various levels of government.
We would like to thank everyone who helped make this #OntarioMade project and continued applied R&D program possible, principally, Custom Plastics International, the Microfactory Co-operative, Protoform Engineering, OMedical Corp, Northumberland Hills Hospital and all of our advisors and partners.
No matter what project or product we are working on, we are continuing to build capacity for innovation, production and self-reliance.