About the Brand
General Civilian™ is a brand for the people. Through innovation in design and local production we are supplying the civilian population with universal 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 gradual and responsible planning for a general return to work.
We drew inspiration from the rapid mobilization of production of "general civilian respirators" in the lead-up to the Second World War. In 1937-1938 a plant in Blackburn (Lancashire, UK) produced millions of respirators. Wartime economics demands the measured and efficient use of critical resources, overall emergency preparedness and general collective responsibility. We felt that our venture was, in a sense, "Blackburnian", following in the footsteps of those who sought to quickly ramp up production of sturdy, quality gear for a changed world.
We are a populist civilian brand, committed to sustainable local production and making our products accessible to all. We set out from the beginning to secure a domestic 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, families, commuters and the general civilian population in different phases of pandemic management. We asked: how could we actually get this product out to the people?
The RS-1 represents our drive to produce enhanced mask solutions for the general population.
We are currently pursuing 95PFE certification under Interim Order of the Government of Canada and hope to announce major new developments in the evolution of the RS platform.
General Civilian is grateful that we were selected by Innovative Solutions Canada (COVID-19 Testing Stream) in January, 2021, 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.
Thank you to 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.
We must continue to build on our capacity for innovation, production and self-reliance, through the pandemic and beyond.