RALEIGH — Wearing a face mask is all too often a trade-off between protection and breathability, especially for those who must wear them at work all day, says new Raleigh startup Aries USA which hopes to change that.

Aries recently launched sales of a face mask product made from a fabric engineered at North Carolina State University.  According to the company, the face mask meets the latest high-performance standards for filtration, breathability, and reuse, and the company calls their product the Work Week Barrier Face Covering.

Stared in July 2020 by Triangle-based serial entrepreneur Chris Evans who founded six other startups, Aries raised $1.2 million in funding from regional angel investors. It has fewer than ten employees and manufacturers the high-performance face mask at a factory in Sanford with fabric from NC State’s Textile School operation.


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“Companies want to return to work. Employees want to be able to breathe freely and be comfortable through an 8-hour workday,” said Chris Evans, CEO of Aries USA. The Aries Work Week Barrier Face Covering is one of the first to comply with the ASTM 3502 standard, delivering both filtration and breathability at Level 2, which are high-performance standards.”

He added, “Our masks carry the ‘meets ASTM 3502’ label on each product, guaranteeing that users are getting the performance they need and expect.”

The product is as protective as the highest-level medical-grade masks, says the company.


Fabric counters supply chain bottleneck

The face-covering is manufactured with Captur, a novel, engineered fabric technology made at the North Carolina State Textile School factory that combines nonwoven polypropylene and Ingeo biopolymer (a sustainable polymer with a lower carbon footprint) to provide a high level of protective filtration combined with maximum breathability.

The Aries mask’s innovative fabric was developed in response to the ongoing supply chain constraints for meltblown fabric, which is typically used in medical masks and contributed to the mask shortages.

Meltblown fabric is often an important component of medical masks because it has an electrostatic charge that captures sub-micron particles, increasing the filtration capabilities. But, because Captur’s unique manufacturing process adds an electrostatic charge, a meltblown layer is not needed, resulting in a single-layer mask with both high filtration and breathability.

The company says it provides business operators with a third-party tested and verified barrier face covering to protect their workforce for an entire 40-hour work week.

It sells the product for $15 each in boxes of five. Evans told WRAL TechWire the company has already had reorders from some corporations and is working with retail partners as well.