This is a big problem right now.
A N95 mask, they're very hard to find.
If you do find some you may not be able to afford them if they're being gouged on the open market.
And once you do have one they can be very tricky to clean see lack of supply like we mentioned in the first part, this might be the answer.
To a lot of those pain points, this is from a startup in Northern California.
That is making the bio, a mask.
We'll tell you why it's different, and what it solves for, if it takes off.
Let's talk to the founder Marcus Hayes, who pivoted from making in wheel, electric motors for cars, to making this.
You don't come from the mask-making business and yet you had an idea here for a mask.
Before we get into the strategy of why this is important, tell me what it is.
I've got a sample here that you were able to provide me while you describe it.
I'm gonna open this thing up Supply chain has been a crucial part of my workflow.
And so when I set out to design anything engineer anything, the first thing I do is look at what the resources in the supply chain are because obviously inventing in a vacuum is a non starter.
So if you design it, you can't make it.
It doesn't matter.
Here is that design.
Here's a prototype you're you've you've been through many iterations.
What do you call this thing?
And what I've got here for people that are you obviously can't put this in their own hands.
You can tell it's a mass but it's got a little different shape than you might have seen out there in the in 95 respirator world.
This particular one is made of a. A semi rigid I guess is how I would describe it plastic and then inside there if you look inside you can see from the front of the back, there's a piece of a filter medium.
So Marcus what's the plastic shell made of?
And what's the filtering part made of?
Well, that particular shell, Brian is made of LDPE light density polymer It's easily molded and as you'll see a contour is easily to face.
It's easily sanitized using disinfectant.
There are a number of other methods and most importantly, it has a very small area of filter compared to the conventional and 95.
And it's the filter material.
That's a crisis stage.
So this can be produced by thermal formers and filter makers anywhere in the US today in very high volume.
So companies that already are in the business of molding blister packs, whether it's for something that hangs on a peg or one of those multi pill packs, they know how to make this kind of thing.
They do and billions of these things are made a year all over the world.
Now, the key thing you just pointed out is this thing is not one big piece of filter material it's just got filter material, in the breathing area here.
So it looks like you can make a mask, with a whole lot less of that hard to get filter medium.
Precisely, so, less filter Less dependency on the sophisticated machine technology that produces 95.
What we knew going into the design however, is that to get the thermal formers online, the price of this mask would have to be competitive with conventional and 95 in the best of times.
So that's what this does.
So this can compete out of the gate with the most efficient manufacturing method of all.
What is it?.
50 cents $1, 10 cents $2, what do you think this will cost, when we get when you get these a volume From a thermoformer once they take the cost of goods of one like this.
Well, I think usually it's the same price as a prepandemic N95.
Well, that's 60, $0.70, if I'm not mistaken, right around there?
Okay, so with that in mind, how does one reuse one of these?
How do you clean it, sterilise it, to keep it running for more than one use.
So, hand washing, you can use hand sanitizer, or any number of ways, to literally just hang it up outside.
Let the sun dry it, and it could be washed in a dishwasher on the top rack, the same material that's in your hand is used to make a lot of different types of reusable water bottles.
Now, the key part is this material we've taken for granted that this is what's gonna do the job, but what is it you've gotta give people confidence that your filter material in here Is up to the job, what is this stuff?
Well, we're basing our science on a NASA technical paper that addressed HEPA filter performance at the space station, the International Space Station.
So the science on HEPA and the science on MERV 13 so called.
which are typically industrial grade filtration systems.
You might find those in your home, you can go to any hardware store, vacuum cleaner bags, etc, etc.
What do you have to do to certify this or where are we in the certification era that maybe things are a little looser?
I hear the standards are moving right now.
Well, yesterday the state of California announced that it's relinquishing any certification requirements.
Just to get masks into the hands of frontline providers as a function of the emergency.
So we have produced this mask engineer the mask, meet or exceed the NIOSH and 95 standards.
So we're 100% confident.
The efficacy, the value etc.
And as soon as [UNKNOWN] or FDA or anybody can take our mask into their system, we will do that whether the state or the fat or anybody is certifying or not.
manufacturers have a responsibility to deliver sterilize goods to the market period.
Little hard to put on my headphones but I did try this.
I did try a sample earlier and it felt as if this interesting sort of, I think we need to look at it here this interesting kinda turned radiused edge you've got along here which is different than the traditional and 95.
It felt like it had a nice ceiling ability.
Because of that Rounded curvature.
The seal is crucial.
That's what the NIOSH and the FDA requirement start with which is.
Along the top of the face, and the best way to sort of ascertain that seat of the pants is through your eyeglasses or goggles fog.
When you have the mask on, and all the testing we've done with human subjects which has been as extensive as it can possibly be in this short period of time, we have been able to demonstrate no fogging of glasses.
In terms of how you get these out.
You're gonna ship out these days, what's the relationship you have with the former's?
You're gonna license the This is I understand.
How does that work?
Because some people are gonna hear that and say just give it away but you wanna have some control over how this is utilized.
They're gonna get the tooling from us at no upfront cost.
So as long as they're following the procedures and producing the product with the right efficacy Then we'll take a small royalty, that's all that we need.
And the royalty on our end is just to keep our operation going because there's a chain of products here that we can follow with, that's gonna continue Continue to help overcome the supply chain bottlenecks.
For example, the filter you have in that unit today will be a replaceable filter soon for front line healthcare workers.
So there will be a version of that that could go into an autoclave or some other system that they already have in the hospital.
And then they'll be able to hang onto the To the plastic piece and have interchangeable filters that will be sanitized they can change on site.
Best of luck with it, Marcus for people who want to stay in touch with what you're doing or if they're a thermal former and want to get in touch with you.
Where do they go?
US is the website.
Let's we'll get them dies and we'll get them into the 95 universe.
Now obviously there are still a lot of what ifs and variables around the bio aid mask or masks of all different kinds that are being experimented with and put out there by parties ranging from home crafters, to large corporations that are pivoting toward making these kinds of things.
But it just goes to show that right now technology is focused on something pretty simple.
It doesn't have batteries or anything electronic and yet it's at the front edge of turning this pandemic back.