VANDALIA, Ohio (WDTN) – A Miami Valley manufacturing company won a half million-dollar grant from the state of Ohio to create a new kind of mask to help in the fight against the coronavirus. 

Just one year ago, Ben Staub and his industrial manufacturing company BasTech weren’t even in the PPE business, they stuck mostly to aerospace products. But in a few short months they identified a need, developed prototypes, won a grant, and started producing a unique mask that’s now being used all over the country. 

Staub is the President of BasTech. He says, “Basically we looked at it and said ‘I think we can take it and improve upon that and come up with something better.'” 

When PPE supplies dwindled last March, Staub and his team of engineers looked for ways to produce better products. In a few short months, they developed a new concept: a soft, reusable mask. Staub says, “The benefit of this is the sealing surface around the perimeter that goes to your face.” 

The 3D manufacturer created curved edges molded out of a stretchy plastic to fit a variety of facial features, and the masks accept replaceable filters. Staub says, “The filter is actually a separate piece and can pop in and out.” 

The success is due in part to an Ohio reshoring PPE grant. BasTech won the maximum $500,000, one of the few companies to offer a new design concept. “It was an enormous help for us because if we hadn’t done it, if we were doing it all on our own timing and funds, then it would have been very limiting.” 

The grant money helped build new molds and equipment. BasTech now is capable of producing up to 1 million masks a year. And N-95 approval from the government is forthcoming. It’s an elaborate process; Staub hopes the final stages are completed within a few months. 

And now they’re looking ahead, developing new products for industrial use beyond the pandemic. Staub is currently selling bulk orders to hospitals and other industries. One hospital in Missouri just ordered 2500. And the masks are also available for sale online for $14.95 each.