This U.S.-based company stepped up to manufacture NIOSH-approved N95 masks comfortable enough for all-day wear

by Brianna Crandall — June 21, 2021 — Shawmut Corporation, together with its primary N95 mask production investor, The Fallon Company, announced the launch in late spring of its NIOSH-approved Protex N95 mask with the patent-pending Protex ADC all-day-comfort system for prolonged use. Production lines are now operating, with a goal of creating up to 10 million masks per month by year-end to meet continued demand for domestically produced PPE. The company also announced a multi-year distribution contract for its N95 masks with Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., representing one of many early orders for the Protex N95 particulate respirator.

Shawmut Protex N95 mask

US-based Shawmut announced the launch of its NIOSH-approved Protex N95 mask with patent-pending Protex ADC all-day-comfort system for prolonged use. Image courtesy Shawmut

Shawmut’s new domestic N95 manufacturing operation is based at the company’s West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, headquarters and was created through a purpose-driven partnership with The Fallon Company and supported by a grant from Massachusetts’s Manufacturing Emergency Response Team (MERT), a program created to support in-state manufacturing of critical PPE items, including N95 masks, protective gowns, hand sanitizer, and ventilators. The new manufacturing facility, which went from concept to production in six months, is expected to create as many as 300 new jobs in Massachusetts.

Majority investor Joseph Fallon, CEO of The Fallon Company, stated:

The Covid-19 pandemic has put an incredible strain on the country’s healthcare system, and the overreliance on overseas PPE has led to continued shortages and massive counterfeiting of these critical products. We partnered with Shawmut to rapidly bring our vision for Made-in-America PPE to reality and make sure we are never again in a position where we have to worry if we will have enough high-quality, domestically-produced PPE to keep people safe and healthy.

Shawmut CEO James Wyner remarked:

Shawmut’s 100+ years of experience in advanced materials manufacturing makes us a natural fit as a long-term domestic PPE manufacturer. It’s an honor to play a role in helping solve the country’s N95 mask shortage. We put our materials innovation expertise to use to create an industry-leading N95 mask that offers superior quality and safety as well as all-day comfort. And because we are manufacturing our masks here in the US, we can continually monitor quality, ship to market faster, and deliver our customers a better product at a competitive price.

As part of its US-made Protex N95 initiative, Shawmut retrofitted nearly 70,000 square feet of industrial space to accommodate production. Its N95 facilities include:

  • A multimillion-dollar investment of new equipment from Germany’s Reifenhäuser REICOFIL GmbH & Co, the world’s most advanced meltblown filter media production system, to produce its proprietary filter media in-house.
  • A fully automated and flexible molded-cup-mask production system which, despite being the most challenging type of N95 mask to manufacture, has proved to be critical in providing a unique combination of a secure fit and lasting comfort to broaden usage of the Protex N95 particulate respirator.
  • An on-site materials testing lab and state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment that allows the team to test its products in-house and will help foster rapid development of future mask products.

Lisa Witte, president, Fisher Scientific channel, Thermo Fisher Scientific, commented:

This is another example of how we are cross-collaborating with other industries to help keep our population safe. We are ready to get these N95 respirators into the hands of those who need them most.

About the new Protex N95 mask

According to Shawmut, the Protex N95 Particulate Respirator Model SR9520 was skillfully engineered with comfort in mind. Determined to overcome user critiques that N95s are uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time, Shawmut designed custom-engineered, thermoform molds with feedback from front line workers and other users, to achieve a better fitting mask that doesn’t provide excessive pressure on the face and skin.

With the combined use of 3D scanning, in-house testing and rapid prototyping, Shawmut innovated its patent-pending Protex ADC all-day-comfort system that combines a uniquely soft but strong inner layer, incredibly lightweight but highly efficient and effective inner filtration layer, and high-sealing viscoelastic nose foam for a secure but comfortable seal. The result is an N95 mask performance with less air resistance, cooler and less stale air inside the mask for easier breathability, less eyeglass fogging, and less pressure on the face for all-day-comfort and wear.

The Protex N95 Particulate Respirator Model SR9520 offers a minimum of 95% filtration efficiency, meeting the government standard for N95s. The molded-cup-style respirator — preferred by most users for its performance — is made with Shawmut’s proprietary high-efficiency, bi-layer, meltblown filtration material, offering a comfortable fit for extended wear. Due to its lightweight, inner filtration layer, developed using Shawmut’s advanced material expertise, the Protex N95 respirator is lighter and more breathable than others on the market, says Shawmut.

Additional features of the Protex N95 Particulate Respirator Model SR9520 include:

  • A soft, professional-looking outer protective layer
  • Integrated nose foam and adjustable clip system
  • Engineered elastic head straps with an expanded force curve to fit a wider range of face and head sizes

Partnership with the Massachusetts Dental Society

In May, Shawmut Corporation announced a partnership with the Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) to offer its 5,000+ members PPE as part of the organization’s Member Savings Program. The partnership, which brings together two long-standing Massachusetts-based organizations, will allow MDS members to place orders for Shawmut’s Protex line of PPE, including N95 respirators and non-surgical isolation gowns, directly through Shawmut at a discounted price.

More information about the Protex N95 Particulate Respirator is available on the Shawmut website. Since its founding in 1916, Shawmut Corporation has been molding the future through advanced materials, textile manufacturing, and process innovation across the automotive, medical, protective, performance wear, filtration and defense markets.