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Consortium Develops Breakthrough Face Mask for Health Care Professionals

Husco, a privately-held company specializing in high performance hydraulic and electro-mechanical components, today announced that a consortium called MaskForce has designed, developed, and produced a reusable face mask. This face mask is temporarily authorized by the FDA under an emergency use authorization for use by healthcare professionals to help prevent the spread of infection or illness during the COVID-19 pandemic. The initial production run of 30,000 face masks is underway at Husco’s headquarters in Waukesha, Wis., with the first shipment to Milwaukee-area first responders sent on April 29. The consortium is working on plans to ramp up production to more than 10,000 masks per day to help meet national demand.

Unlike most face masks which are designed to be discarded after a single use, the MaskForce product can be sanitized and re-used. Made of medical grade silicone and polypropylene, the final design is soft, comfortable, and provides a low pressure facial seal. The MaskForce team tested hundreds of suitable materials and collaborated with multiple university labs, medical professionals and first responders before finalizing the production design.

“Among our core values is practical innovation, which drives us to consistently and creatively push the boundary of what is possible to create immediate value,” said Austin Ramirez, chief executive officer of Husco, which is leading the MaskForce consortium. “MaskForce is both an example of American manufacturing ingenuity and the good that can be accomplished when multiple stakeholders collaborate to serve the community. I am grateful to all the MaskForce collaborators for their time, expertise, and goodwill.”

The MaskForce consortium began when more than 50 professionals representing local manufacturers, first responders, educational institutions, and healthcare organizations gathered together with the shared goal of developing a reusable face mask to help address the nationwide health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Briggs & Stratton Corporation, Midwest Composite Technologies, MasterGraphics, New Berlin Plastics, Protolabs, and Savage Solutions all provided key services and support to the consortium. Through the guidance and input of these organizations and others, the goal was achieved in just four weeks.

“Among our core collaborators, no one blinked an eye when it came to using our collective expertise during this time of need,” said Austin Schmitt, vice president at Husco. “From the start, we endeavored to create something better, with the necessary comfort, fit, and functionality needed, supported by a high-volume production process to get the masks into the hands of first responders as quickly as possible. MaskForce accomplished in four weeks what would typically take months or even years.”

The mask is priced close to cost, with any profits in 2020 reinvested back into the community. In addition to accelerating production of the current model, a smaller form-factor mask is under development. The MaskForce face mask is temporarily authorized pursuant to an FDA emergency use authorization and is actively pursuing NIOSH N95 certification.

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