Ullman Sails Production Line takes a Starboard Tack
Sailmakers are creating face masks in a time of uncertainty and need
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., April 20, 2020 – Without fair winds on these unchartered waters, Ullman Sails is stepping up to help solve the widespread Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) crisis by manufacturing semi-rigid technical masks.
“We didn’t expect to end up here but, we now have quality masks if you’re in need,” said loft owner Bruce Cooper. Shortly into the COVID-19 pandemic, Cooper, and girlfriend, Jennifer Monaghan had a conversation about the need for masks – she works for a leading grocery store chain and his parents were in a high-risk group. The two spent a couple of evenings making prototypes and testing materials.
With concepts proven and samples completed, Jennifer suggested they make more; thinking of helping family, friends and the sailing crowd just as CDC, State, and Federal authorities began recommended wearing masks for personal safety and the media began reporting shortages in the medical community. Cooper asked his crew if they were up for the challenge and the response overwhelmingly, was yes.
“It took off overnight,” said Cooper. “We feel that it’s a great way to meet the moment and make a difference in keeping our community safer.”
Two styles of Ullman Technical Masks, both semi-rigid (shape memory) and curved to fit comfortably over the face or even over another mask (N95, N94, etc.) are being produced. Although designed for use by the general public they’re also a way to mitigate shortages of N95 as the shape allows the mask to be worn over an N95; protecting it and the wearer in case it has to be used for longer than intended. The interior and exterior materials are hand washable, durable and water-resistant.
The interior fabric is a durable tight-weave synthetic. The exterior material is a durable compressed synthetic fabric, a texture similar to felt, but quilted and less porous. The materials used are not filtration rated, but they are pursuing that type of testing. On one of the two styles is a seamed opening in anticipation of future filter placement or if the wearer wants to add their own. The masks come with a filter pattern so DIY filters can be inserted.
Some people are using coffee filters (used by combat medics) HEPA filters (from vacuum cleaners) or blue disposable shop towels. Out of respect for and appreciation of those who risk their lives to save ours during this crisis, special pricing is available for medical personal, frontline essential workers and for those over 65 years of age. Donations are welcome to help cover shipping and lower cost for these saviors.
So far, Cooper reports accepting donations for masks headed to medical facilities in Anaheim and the field Hospital in New York City’s Central Park. There are no minimum orders, but a price break is offered for quantities of 100 or more. Pricing for both styles is at or slightly above margin, covering primarily material and labor costs. The idea is to be of service and help bridge the gap until they can get back to making sails and getting back on the water again, Cooper said.