A once-vacant warehouse in Rensselaer has become a major manufacturing location for personal protective equipment. American Melt Blown & Filtration specializes in manufacturing filtration and oil absorbent products for heavy-duty uses. But the company pivoted in the spring to meet the growing demand for personal protective equipment and created a startup called Indiana Face Mask.
The business has become a major player in PPE manufacturing and is one of a few to receive a federal designation to manufacture and distribute medical-grade N95 masks.
“There are only about five companies in the United States that actually have the capabilities to make that material, us being one of them. So, when the pandemic started, we were phoning anywhere from 50 to 100 phone calls a day from people trying to get the material,” said Clayton Geyer, vice president of American Melt Blown & Filtration.
Geyer’s father, Fred, has been producing the filter material for more than a decade. With such a heavy demand for masks, the company took the next step.
“Why don’t we get the machines ourselves since we already have the hardest part taken care of,” said Geyer. “So, it wasn’t a big leap for us. The biggest thing was actually getting the building ready.”
After investing in a building and equipment, Indiana Face Mask was able to manufacture standard surgical masks. But recently the company received federal approval to produce medical-grade N95 masks.
“There are, I believe, now 28 to 30 companies worldwide who are actually certified to make N95 masks. And again, yeah, we’re one of them,” said Geyer.
An N95 mask can filter out both large and small particles when the wearer inhales as it blocks 95% of very small airborne particles. However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend that the public wear N95 masks and reserve them for health care workers.
For now, the masks produced in Rensselaer will remain in Indiana as the state has a continuous contract for PPE.
“Indiana says we’ll pretty much buy anything that you guys can produce for the next 10 years,” said Geyer.
Geyer explained to Around INdiana reporter Mary-Rachel Redman how their special filter material works and provides more protection. Learn more by watching her report.