Dr. D. Casey Kerrigan, a Harvard M.D., turned shoe manufacturer and co-founder of OESH Shoes had already begun 3D printing filtering facepiece respirators (FFRS) in response to COVID-19 when her physician colleagues asked if she could use her manufacturing contacts in China to produce much larger quantities. With all the counterfeit and poor quality “N95” and “KN95” FFRs currently being sold, it is fortunate that Dr. Kerrigan could bypass all the middlemen and distributors.
She recalled that her very own manufacturing partner in China, Mr. Charlie Tian, had co-bought a large KN95 facemask factory several years ago that made FFRs with a bi-fold design similar to her bi-fold 3D printed design, which was proving to provide a better fit than a cup-shaped design.
Dr. Kerrigan and Mr. Charlie Tian have worked together closely since 2012. In fact, Dr. Kerrigan was in China to visit Mr. Tian as recently as December, 2019 (pictured below). Since December, they’ve been in constant communication about the global COVID-19 crisis as it has evolved and has affected manufacturing and supply of much needed medical supplies, particularly facemasks.
Mr. Tian’s factory, Chuzhou Qiao Dong Industrial Co., began manufacturing facemasks in 2018 using raw material manufactured by its parent company, Qiao Dong Industrial Co., which has 10 years of experience manufacturing non-woven disposable products for a number of large, well-known companies such as Kimberly Clark. Chuzhou and Qiao Dong invested millions of dollars into the proper tooling, equipment, and trained personnel to make consistent high quality facemasks for civilians in China. This is in contrast to most other factories which have only recently converted to manufacturing facemasks. Also, Chuzhou Qiao Dong is the only facemask factory in China that vertically manufactures and tests its own raw materials, including the meltblown non-woven filter media ensuring that their facemasks continue to be the same high quality throughout this pandemic when shortages in high quality filter media are common.