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Dr. David Mathews is a high energy, compassionate, orthopedic surgeon who has spent considerable time in other parts of the world helping those in need. One of the things that struck him when he was in Vietnam and Cambodia was the prevalence of air pollution and the associated rates of pulmonary, cardiovascular, and other diseases. He decided to do something about it.

Dr. Mathews is a lifelong friend of Tom Brown, Inc. CEO, Kenny Brown and our president, Brendan Brown. They met and spoke about designing a respirator mask that would be comfortable to wear and effective against the types of air pollution he encountered.

We were able to put Dr. Mathews in contact with a company that specializes in injection molded parts for the sports industry, (think ski and motocross goggles). After several iterations using face models to guide them, they were able to design a molded, form fitting, mask in sizes to fit men, women and children. The Makana mask was born.

In case you’re wondering about the etymology of the word Makana, it is of Hawaiian origin (Dr. Mathews lives on the island of Oahu). It can be used as a noun meaning “something given voluntarily” or it can be used as a verb meaning to “donate.”

Ancillary Die Cut Parts of the Makana Mask

The body of the Makana mask is molded from thermoplastic polyurethane. Supporting parts include:

  • The actual filter that traps contaminants and prevents them from being inhaled by the wearer
  • Two valve covers that help to seal the mask during inhalation and open to permit the escape of CO2 during exhalation
  • A foam face seal to comfortably mold to the wearer’s face and prevent inhaling air around the sides of the mask
  • An elastic strap to affix the mask securely to the wearer along with a slide or buckle for comfortable fit.
Die cut valve covers
Die Cut Valve Covers

The filter, valve covers, and face seal were designed to be delivered as die cut parts. The initial filter will be cut from a blended synthetic fiber with a BFE (Bacterial Filtration Efficiency) and a VFE (Viral Filtration Efficiency) of 99.9999%. Alternate anti-viral filtration media for enhanced filtration in high viral load environments is also offered for healthcare and frontline workers.

The valve cover is kiss cut on a rotary press using a polyester based polyurethane film. The tensile strength gives it toughness and the flexibility allows it to effectively seal the valves during inhalation.

The face seal is designed from a flexible, semi-closed cell EPDM foam and also in combination with a viscoelastic urethane foam for enhanced comfort.

Die cut face seal foam for facemasks
Die Cut Face Seal Foam for the Makana Mask.

How Makana Masks Help the Fight Against COVID-19

Dr. Mathews’ original intention to provide the protective mask to Vietnam and other Asian countries to handle air pollution and its associated diseases suddenly changed. He sees the need to make masks now to help frontline medical staff and other citizens mitigate the threat from the coronavirus. This is what he has tasked Tom Brown, Inc. and other supporting companies to do.

Tom Brown, Inc. is proud to help in the fight against COVID-19

Good material science along with reliable equipment, repeatable processes, and supply chain coordination is part of the value that a converter brings. How can we help you? Contact us at Tom Brown, Inc.