Manufacturing visit + valve blockers + filters
Airhead Mask Update
Hey friends of Airhead,
The sun is shining and, over here in the UK, the world is tentatively opening up. Brighter times are well on their way.
We’ve got excellent stuff to share with you this week, including news of a recent Airhead trip to one of our manufacturers in Birmingham.
Let’s get straight into the good stuff.
- We’ve hit a big milestone in the production process - all of the remaining tooling has now been ordered, paid for and is being produced as we speak! This includes a total of seven injection moulding tools and a filter die-cutting tool. Two of the strap component tools have been prioritised (photos below), which enables us to start stitching the straps earlier, while we wait for the rest of the mask to be made – this saves us time down the line and helps us to stick to timelines.
- ‘Off-the-shelf’ items have been ordered in bulk, including strap adjustment buckles, magnetic Fidlock clips, strap elastic, packaging stickers and exhalation valves. This means they’ll be waiting in the warehouse ready to go when we start assembly.
- For those of you who missed it, we took the decision to offer a free carry bag with each mask, to thank you for your patience so far. Samples are in and we’re very pleased with them – slick, functional and a rather handy way to store your mask. The bags also have an anti-microbial coating to help prevent any odours and keep the mask fresh while being stored. Bulk production of these will commence this week. Feast your eyes on a sample below.
Now, about that trip to the West Midlands. Last week, we made up our lunchboxes and took a (school) trip to meet Paul and the team at RP Technologies – our injection moulding partners. It was a real education for us and, quite simply, an incredible feeling to see real-life tangible results after nearly two years of hard work! It was a hive of activity down there and, as the biggest partner in our supply chain, it was so energising to visit the factory and get to know the team a bit better.
- In best practice injection moulding, you make T0 samples, then make minor tweaks; then you get your T1 samples (T2/T3 if needed), and if all looks good, you’re good to go en masse. The photo below shows T0 samples for the strap components. We now need to make minor adjustments over the next two weeks before we review T1 and churn out many thousands more, then we’ll kick off strap stitching and assembly.
- Alongside this, the remaining five injection moulding tools are currently being made and we’ll receive T0 samples of these parts by mid-May.
- On the subject of AirSkin development, we recently had a problem – a road block, if you will. With some hard work, and a stroke of luck, we’ve solved the problem. What was the problem? The finish and quality of the final samples didn’t meet the high standards that are required, and there wasn’t any scope to improve them in the timeframes we’d set. The solution: a new manufacturing partner, based in the UK. They’ve produced some outstanding samples in rapid time, and encouragingly, believe they can deliver within the timeframes we need. Our previous partner was based over in Canada, so this has the added benefit of simplifying logistics. So, a very last minute shift of supplier, but despite this we remain on track! This week, we’ll get more samples in, so we can continue the development process to incorporate the fancy bits like logos and anti-microbial coatings.
- By the end of next week, all of the filter material will have been ordered, so once the cutting tool is ready (in c.6 weeks) we will be producing sample runs (batches) of the filters to prepare for mass production.
Exhalation valve blockers
We have another little announcement to make. Exhalation valve blockers: an added bonus feature that we hadn’t planned to do originally, but came up with a quick win design integration before we froze the design for production. These little stickers will make the mask suitable to wear as a Covid face covering, the technical requirements for which prevent masks from having functioning exhalation valves. The blockers are made from a waterproof membrane that prevents moisture and droplets that might contain virus particles from escaping the mask. Very easy to use, you’ll simply place the sticker over the valves and you’re good to go. If you’re using the mask to exercise, we highly recommend not blocking the valves to allow for better ventilation.
How often should the filters be replaced and how do I get my hands on some more?
This is a question we’ve been asked a few times recently. If you’re using the Airhead mask for pollution protection, we’d recommend replacing the filter after approximately 60 days of low intensity use, or after 30 days of moderate to high intensity use (assuming 1 hour per day).
If you’re wearing the mask and you suspect it may have been exposed to infectious particles, we would recommend that the filter is disposed of between uses and that you clean the mask thoroughly, made easy by the modular design of the Airhead mask. In case you missed the announcement previously, we decided to add one additional free filter to your order. If you want to order any more without any additional shipping costs and at the Kickstarter prices, you can do so today via our website and we’ll add them to your package. Just hit the button below.
Backerkit survey: cards set to be charged
We wanted to let you know that this Wednesday 21st April, your card will automatically be charged for any Airhead add-ons that you ordered after our campaign, via the Backerkit survey that you completed last June. This includes payment for Kickstarter-discounted replacement filters, spare AirSkins and additional masks purchased outside of the campaign. No action is required from you, so feel free to sit back and relax. We’ll send you a message if we have any problems with your card, so that we can avoid any unnecessary delays to your order.
That’s all for today, we hope you remain as excited as we do. We’re relieved, pleased and quietly confident as we remain on track to commence distribution on 12th July. Phwoar, it’s gonna be good.
Until next time,
The Airhead team