New Balance has made its mark in the fight against the coronavirus for front line workers, and now the footwear company is set to offer both an athletic face mask and one for the general public.
Boston-based New Balance joined the PPE effort in early March, switching its production, in part, from footwear to face masks for nurses, doctors and first responders. Since that time, the company said, it has produced more than 1 million face masks.
Now New Balance is offering the NB Face Mask V3 for the general public, and an athletics-ready mask in the coming weeks, the company said.
"We are incredibly proud and humbled to do our part to help so many in our health care community by producing more than one million masks in the past two months," Chief Operating Officer Dave Wheeler said in a statement. "We are thankful that the innovative thinking of our associates, our long history of domestic manufacturing and the work of our highly skilled teams in our factories have allowed us to quickly adapt to help meet the immense mask needs of the health care community, and now the general public."
Developed in consultation with local medical and R&D institutions, New Balance produced its first face mask prototype within 12 days, and by late April, it was making 100,000 units per week between two New Balance factories located in Lawrence, Mass., and Norridgewock, Maine.
Assembly of the NB Face Mask V3, a lightweight and breathable, non-sterile mask with a moldable nose piece, are sold in packs of three for $24.99 a pack. They are made at the Lawrence, Mass., factory, according to the company.
Concordia University assists with masks
When the pandemic began, front line workers were asking for all the PPE help they could get. In many cases, they still are.
Now, as the country begins to reopen, Concordia University Wisconsin said it wants to make worship and religious gatherings as safe as possible as well. The university will partner with local businesses to 3D-print and supply "N95-esque" masks for both the medical and church communities.
Concordia said it will use its "sizeable" 3D printing facility to print the hard plastic shells that serve as the outer layer to the masks. Concordia said it will use its Makerspace Lab and 82 machines to design and print the shells.
"Even today, a range of manufacturers, including small cottage industries, continue to pull together to generate an inventory of masks capable of serving medical professionals and the populous as the country reopens for business in a time of COVID-19," Concordia said.
The university teamed with Milwaukee-based Ritus Corp. to manufacture the silicone inner liner for the mask, to be known as The Concordia University Community Mask.
"We're kind of nicknaming the masks, because it's really taken a community of people to put this together," said Mike Litman, chair of the Computer Science Department at Concordia University.
Concordia estimates it could deliver 500 masks a week.
"With its ongoing drive to serve its hometown community, Concordia plans to expand distribution to area churches," Concordia said. "Many consider worship and religious gatherings essential, and Wisconsin churches plan to welcome back parishioners by offering masks, hand-sanitizer, and spaced seating protocols."
Concordia University Wisconsin is a Lutheran higher education institution.
Ritus is the industrial and automotive rubber manufacturing arm of VRC Engineered Solutions.