WEST BRIDGEWATER- Technical textile specialist Shawmut and The Fallon Company have announced the creation of a new US-based manufacturing operation to produce N95 respirators.
The plant includes a new Reicofil meltblown line which will be installed in the facility based in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts and will enable end-to-end production of up to 180 million masks per year. The operation is expected to create up to 300 new jobs.
The new effort will also be supported with a US$2.7 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Manufacturing Emergency Response Team (MERT), a state-led initiative that has facilitated the production of more than 11 million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other critical items by manufacturers that pivoted operations to address COVID-19 at the onset of the public health crisis. This is one of 13 grants totaling $6.5 million being distributed to multiple organizations during October, or “Manufacturing Month,” to support the production of PPE in Massachusetts.
“The MERT program continues to identify and support successful ‘Made in Massachusetts’ manufacturers like the Fallon Company and Shawmut Corporation, that will produce N95 masks and other PPE equipment locally, for Massachusetts front-line responders, business owners, and residents,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We are pleased to welcome the expansion of this manufacturing facility in Massachusetts and appreciate the role these companies are playing in the Commonwealth’s fight against COVID-19.”
The operation brings together two well-established, successful family businesses to serve as one of only a handful of high-quality mask manufacturers in the U.S. The West Bridgewater facility will extend existing Shawmut manufacturing capabilities, which include medical gowns, to add polypropylene melt blown extrusion and mask conversion capabilities to create respirators, shoring up the U.S. healthcare supply chain with domestic production.
The line was fast-tracked from Reicofil on an expedited timeline.
In addition to a financial investment by Joseph Fallon, CEO of the Fallon Company, the effort will be supported by President Michael Fallon and the company’s development, legal, and construction teams. Funds will support infrastructure upgrades, utility improvements, and capital investment to Shawmut Corporation’s manufacturing facility in West Bridgewater.
“With all that’s at stake right now, we must shore up domestic manufacturing of lifesaving personal protective equipment for the people whose lives are at risk,” said Joe Fallon, the initial investor in the new facilities. “So this isn’t just about making masks here in the U.S., it’s about ensuring we have the equipment needed to keep our frontline workers safe and in a position to take care of people over the long term.”
In addition to having full control of the manufacturing process to ensure ongoing quality and safety and eliminate potential price gouging, domestic production will allow first responders and medical personnel to conduct fit testing in the factory, as well as allow for rapid prototyping and testing of future PPE products, the companies said.
Shawmut, which has decades of experience in the healthcare sector, is currently producing isolation gowns and surgical barrier fabrics, and will now be producing high-quality FDA- and NIOSH-approved N95 masks made of meltblown nanofibre material. The company plans to start with an initial run rate of 5 million masks per month, gradually building up to producing 15 million masks per month.
“These health risks are not going away. We need to plan ahead to ensure our state and country never run out of N95 masks again,” said Shawmut CEO, James Wyner. “Shawmut is proud to be partnered with Joe and others at the Fallon Company to bring this advanced PPE manufacturing investment to Massachusetts."