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Aries is one of the first companies recognized by CDC as a provider of barrier face coverings conforming to the ASTM F3502-21 standard requirements

Barrier Face Covering is currently the only one to meet Level 2 performance on both Filtration and Breathability

Raleigh, NC —[August 19, 2021] — Aries is pleased to announced they are one of the first companies to be listed on the CDC site for Barrier Face Coverings (Face Masks) and NIOSH Performance/Performance Plus Masks conforming to the ASTM 3502-21 standard; https://wwwn.cdc.gov/PPEInfo/RG/FaceCoverings. As of publication, Aries is the only mask on the list that conforms to level 2 for both Filtration and Breathability for the ASTM 3502 standard and is also the only product 100% sourced and manufactured in the USA.

The ASTM F3502-21 standard establishes a national standard baseline for design, performance, and testing requirements for Barrier Face Coverings (BFC’s) to allow comparison of products by end users. To meet the standard, products must report and exceed minimum performance for protection (particulate filtration efficiency), as well as comfort and breathability (air flow resistance). It was created in a joint effort by ASTM International, the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL), as well as industry and academic experts.

“The unique combination of fabrics in the Aries face coverings allowed for us to meet Level 2 for both filtration and breathability, with test results that are more than 2 times greater than other products currently listed,” said Chris Evans, CEO of Aries. “In contrast to cloth face masks that typically have a filtration efficiency of less than 30%, Aries offers not only the comfort and breathability of a cloth face mask but superior protection against viruses and bacteria like a medical mask. Our masks carry the ‘meets ASTM 3502’ label on each product, guaranteeing that users are getting the performance they expect.”

Aries worked with NC State University’s Nonwovens Institute to add proprietary features to a novel fabric made from two different polymers, which combine to make a single fiber, branded Captur™. The fabric includes Ingeo™, a bioplastic with a smaller carbon footprint than petroleum-based polymers, making it one of the most sustainable face coverings on the market. Each face covering is designed to last for 40-hours, or a typical 5-day work week. All components are sourced and manufactured in the United States.

This 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 at the beginning of the pandemic. Meltblown fabric is often a critical 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.

About Aries
At Aries (pronounced Air-ease), we believe that wearing a mask should not be an unpleasant experience. What good is high filtration capacity if you are constantly removing or adjusting your mask throughout the day in order to breathe?
Aries is dedicated to creating the best protective mask solutions through innovation. The company has partnered with leading U.S. providers of polymers and engineered fabrics to make Captur, a novel, engineered fabric technology providing high levels of protective filtration combined with breathability. These superior masks solve the challenges of material availability, filtration, and comfort. Made 100% in the U.S., Aries ensures organizations are buying the highest quality mask to protect them and their employees.

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Blog

Mask Fit Matters!

While the CDC is relaxing face mask guidelines for people vaccinated against COVID-19, they still have an important role in the COVID-19 pandemic and have shown their effectiveness against other infectious diseases, like the flu. Therefore, many people will continue to use them as part of everyday life for the foreseeable future.

However, even the best mask must fit well to effectively prevent airborne particles from spreading via people’s noses and mouths. One of the most common issues is the potential for gaps between the mask and the wearer’s face.

Did you know that fogging glasses are more than an inconvenience for mask wearers?

It’s actually a quick gauge for how well the mask fits. If your glasses are fogging, that means moisture (and possibly infectious disease particles) are leaking around the mask’s edges.

Whether or not you are wearing glasses, contacts, or no eyewear at all, when a mask doesn’t fit properly, it pushes air upward, onto the eyes, potentially causing the tear film — the liquid layer that coats the eyes’ surface — to evaporate more quickly. This may lead to Mask-Associated Dry Eye (MADE) leaving the eyes to feel sore, gritty, dry, and irritated.

Read on for some tips to ensure the best — and safest — fit, which will help you make the most of your mask.

Choose a mask with a thick double-wire nose bridge.
A nose bridge, the metal strip in a mask to mold to the wearer’s nose, provides a tighter seal to prevent leakage and thus, foggy glasses. The nose bridge should be molded across the bridge of the nose and to the center of the cheekbones.

Make sure you’re wearing your mask correctly.

Ear loops can not only be functional, a high quality ear loop can make a big difference when you have a mask on for extended periods of time. Make sure you look for a mask with a comfortable ear loop that fits well, without losing stretch.
If ear loops are too loose, they can be easily fixed by:
A simple twist or two of the ear loops before putting the mask on
The “knot and tuck” method: Wear a mask fitter or brace.
Mask fitters and braces are devices that can be used over a mask to help reduce air leakage. For the firmest fit, we recommend adding one of the following devices:

Consider adding a face shield.
Face shields can be worn with a mask and offer protection from the direct transfer of respiratory particles. We like the ZShield Ultra from ZVerse, which you can buy individually or in a bundle with the Aries face mask.

Should you double-mask?

There has been so much confusion over the best way to fit your mask. Most importantly, you should always start with a mask that offers high filtration. If your mask filters properly, you can address fit with any of the methods above and not have to compromise comfort and breathability.

Internal tests by Aries showed that by adding another mask on top of a good filter mask could actually compromise the fit of the high-filtration mask by straining nose wires and ear loops. In addition, the added fabric can significantly reduce breathability. So, before you throw on that extra mask, consider all the other fit techniques that can improve a high-performance mask.

Want to know more about masks that won’t fog your glasses? Contact us today.

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Blog

Employers Guide for Masks, Vaccinations, and Returning to Work

Masks, Vaccinations and the Workplace
On May 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that wearing a mask in most indoor settings was no longer necessary for individuals who were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
OSHA has promised to issue guidance soon, so it is possible that some rules may continue to change.

What indoor settings does the CDC still recommend masks?
Vaccinated and unvaccinated employees should comply with any state and local rules that may be stricter. Businesses can make their own stricter rules and require employees and customers to comply with wearing masks while inside. Additionally, people are still required to wear masks on public transportation, in correctional or detention facilities, or in homeless shelters. In addition, different rules apply to health care employers as well as those visiting healthcare sites.

Can an employer ask for proof of vaccination?
Yes. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidance last December saying that it was legal for employers to:

    1. (1) require employees to be vaccinated (with limited exceptions) and
    1. (2) ask employees whether they have been vaccinated, or even to ask for proof of vaccination.

Proof of vaccination could be a receipt from a doctor’s office or pharmacy, a note from a health care provider or health department, or a vaccination card.

Are there exemptions to employers requiring vaccinations?
Yes. If an employee has a disability that precludes vaccination (for example, the employee is immunocompromised) or if vaccination would violate an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs, the employer will have to at least try to make reasonable accommodations.
Reasonable accommodations could include letting the unvaccinated employee work from home or requiring the unvaccinated employee to continue to wear a mask, social distance, and take all the other old COVID precautions in the workplace.

What if someone already had COVID-19? Do they still need to be vaccinated?
Yes. According to the CDC “you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again.”

What about an employee believes they will contract the virus from the vaccination or that it will alter their DNA or that implant a microchip in their body?
These types of belief’s are not based on a disability, religious belief, so it is not legally protected. Employers can accommodate employees with “non-protected” objections to vaccination, but they are not required to do so.

Unvaccinated people may now be more easily identified if they are required to wear a mask. This may cause friction in work and public spaces and discrimination on both sides. What precautions should companies take for those who cannot get vaccinated because of religious or health reasons and for those that refuse to get vaccinated?
Employers should issue a clear communication to all employees to avoid any confrontations based on whether masks are being worn. This is especially important for supervisors and management. Confrontations and making workers feel uncomfortable can result in disciplinary action. If the employer is following applicable laws and guidance, and the unvaccinated employees are following the rules (wearing masks, social distancing, etc.), unvaccinated employees should be left in peace. In addition, if an employee with health concerns asks to be moved away from a co-worker who has not been vaccinated, the employer should try to accommodate.

What about employees who are still fearful and want to keep working from home?
This is between the employer and the employee, as well as the requirements of their specific job. If your employee wants to continue wear masks even though they do not need them, allow this.

Want to learn more about a face mask designed to be worn for an 40-hour work week? Contact us today

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Blog

How to Spot a Fake: Face Masks

Early in the pandemic, the U.S. faced a mask shortage. Whether it was N95s for medical use, or protective masks for personal use. Cloth masks popped up everywhere, but as we found out, they weren’t as effective at preventing the spread of Covid-19 as masks with high filtration materials. Why? The majority of the materials for N95 masks, as well as the masks themselves, are manufactured internationally, and materials and masks in the U.S. remain in short supply to this day. So, it didn’t come as a surprise when news of counterfeit masks began making headlines in the summer of 2020.

Counterfeit masks are available in excess for many reasons, including the unprecedented demand and lack of supply. Just how excessive is their availability? As of February 2021, Homeland Security Investigations estimated that 10 million counterfeit masks and other medical supplies had been seized by law enforcement. And that’s just what has been identified!

There are several ways to spot fake masks. Early in 2021, the ASTM standards came out with a way to measure the effectiveness of non-medical masks through the ASTM F3502 standard. Much like choosing your suntan lotion by SPF, this guideline seeks to let users understand exactly what they are getting with filtration and breathability for the mask they purchase.

As we will continue wearing face masks throughout vaccine rollouts and beyond, it’s important to be able to identify a face mask that is verified to keep you, and those around you, safe.

Here’s how:
Identifying counterfeit non-medical masks
If you are purchasing a mask for work or school, it is important that it not only protects others, but that it is comfortable to wear throughout the day. Cloth masks may be breathable and comfortable, but they have been shown to filter less than 40% of particulates in the air. And the medical masks available for non-medical use are highly protective but may not be comfortable to wear throughout the day.

A mask that is compliant with the ASTM F3502 standard is going to be both high in filtration and breathable to wear throughout the day. To identify whether a mask is ASTM F3503 compliant, Look for the following:

  • Test results from an independent, accredited laboratory (for example from Intertek or Nelson Labs)
  • The mask itself is labeled. At a minimum, the label must include:
    • the manufacturer’s name, identification, designation, or logo
    • the barrier face covering model or style and
    • the statement “Meets ASTM F3502.”
  • Additionally, the following warning must be printed on the smallest saleable unit/package and must be viewable in its entirety:
    • MEETS ASTM F3502, SPECIFICATION FOR BARRIER FACE COVERINGS. THIS PRODUCT IS PRIMARILY INTENDED AS A MEANS OF SOURCE CONTROL FOR MINIMIZING THE PROJECTION OF EXPELLED MATERIALS FROM THE WEARER’S NOSE AND MOUTH. WARNING: THIS BARRIER FACE COVERING IS NOT A MEDICAL FACE MASK AS DEFINED IN ASTM F2100, IS NOT INTENDED FOR USE IN MEDICAL PROCEDURES, AND IS NOT A RESPIRATOR.
    • NOTE: ASTM does not “certify”, so if you come across one of the many sites that claims ASTM Certification, you know for sure you are not buying an ASTM compliant mask.

Without the above requirements, you are not buying a mask for general use that meets the standards for BOTH Filtration and Breathability.

In addition, the market has been flooded with counterfeits for medical masks-both N95 respirators and KN95 non-medical masks. Here are some tips to identify these masks.

Identifying counterfeit N95s
<Image from the CDC>

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). NIOSH-approved face masks (defined as “respirators”) that meet N95 classification standards have a variety of markings to indicate authenticity. The absence of those markings is one clue as to whether a mask is counterfeit or the real thing. Counterfeit masks often have:

  • No markings at all on the face mask
  • No approval (TC) number on filtering facepiece respirator
  • No NIOSH markings
  • NIOSH spelled incorrectly
  • Presence of decorative fabric or add-ons (e.g., sequins)
  • Claims for approved use by children
  • Filtering facepiece respirator that has ear loops instead of headbands

Educate Yourself on Additional Mask Standards
The majority of us do not need to wear N95 masks under normal circumstances, not only because of scarcity but also because of the impact that high filtration has on breathability (check out our blog on filtration and breathability for more information). There are a wide variety of face mask options that are safe.

ASTM International, an global standards organization that develops and publishes voluntary consensus technical standards, recently published F3502, a barrier face covering standard for general-use masks. This marks the first voluntary standard directed at face coverings and is intended to apply to the general public and workers. To determine if a mask meets these standards, the mask must undergo testing by independent third-party companies, which means you can be confident that the mask will keep the wearer and those around them safe. Products that meet the standard are labeled as “MEETS ASTM F3502.”

Research marketing claims that boast of certification.
For instance, it’s not possible to be “ASTM-certified.” Manufacturers can only claim to meet the ASTM standard through third-party testing, which is when they can label the mask as “MEETS ASTM F3502.”

Look for Face Masks Made in the U.S.
The majority of counterfeit masks that we see in the United States come from other countries. Additionally, face masks made and manufactured in the U.S. can ease the supply chain bottlenecks that personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturers are facing internationally, ensuring a consistent supply of materials. Plus, buying a U.S.-made mask supports local jobs!

Want to learn about a novel face mask that meets ASTM F3502 and is made in the U.S.? Contact us today.

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Press Releases

Aries Donates Face Masks for NC State University Spring 2021 Commencement

Entrepreneur collaborated with the Nonwovens Institute to develop durable, innovative mask that delivers comfort and breathability without sacrificing quality

Raleigh, NC — May 12, 2021 — Aries, maker of face masks and barrier face coverings, announced it is donating 12,000 of its face masks for graduates and attendees to wear at the NC State University commencement on May 15. The company, founded in 2020 by entrepreneur Chris Evans, worked with NC State’s Nonwovens Institute (NWI) to source and make proprietary changes to a novel, innovative spunbond textile developed by Behnam Pourdeyhimi, the Nonwovens Institute’s executive director.

“NC State is proud to show our graduates the advancement that is born from our university,” said Louis Hunt, NC State’s senior vice provost. “The innovation, at both NWI and Aries, serves as an inspiration to us all and especially for tomorrow’s leaders.”

The new Aries mask is one of the first on the market to combine comfort and fit with a high-filtration, breathable design that meets the ASTM F3502 international standard for barrier face coverings. The mask is made with fabric that includes Ingeo™, a bioplastic with a smaller carbon footprint than petroleum-based polymers, making it one of the most sustainable masks on the market. The fabric used in Aries masks, called Captur™, is made at the LINC facility at NC State. Each mask is designed to last for 40-hours, or a typical 5-day work week. All mask components are manufactured in the United States.

“The fabric that was developed at the Nonwovens Institute gave us a great foundation for a mask that breathes like cotton while offering medical-grade filtration,” Evans said. “We want to make sure our wearers are both protected and comfortable, whether at work or in a stadium full of graduates.”
Evans co-founded the Wolfpack Investor Network and currently serves on the NC State Entrepreneurs Advisory Board and Chancellor’s Innovation Fund selection committee.

“The Nonwovens Institute has worked tirelessly to provide filtration media during the pandemic,” Pourdeyhimi said. “In addition to being part of this year’s historic graduation ceremonies, we are proud that we have provided enough filter media to produce more than 200 million masks during the pandemic.”

About Aries
Aries (pronounced Air-Ease) believes that wearing a face mask should be a comfortable experience. Aries is dedicated to creating the best protective mask solutions through innovation. The company has partnered with leading U.S. providers of polymers and engineered fabrics to make Captur™, a novel, engineered fabric technology providing high levels of protective filtration combined with breathability. These superior masks solve the challenges of material availability, filtration and comfort. Made 100% in the United States, Aries ensures organizations are buying the highest quality mask to protect themselves and their employees. For more information, visit www.aries-usa.com.

About Nonwovens Institute
The Nonwovens Institute (NWI) is the world’s first accredited academic program for the interdisciplinary field of engineered fabrics. Based at the Centennial Campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, the NWI is an innovative global partnership between industry, government and academe. Operating on an open innovation platform, the Nonwovens Institute engages experts from industry and higher education in building next-generation nonwoven applications while providing training and guidance to the field’s future leaders.

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News

Aries Press Coverage

Aries is proud to be featured in articles in the following publications:

05/2021 NC State Entrepreneurship News: Local Company Donates Innovative, Breathable Face Masks for Commencement

05/2021 WRAL TechWire: Aries Lands Distribution Deal for Face Masks

04/2021 GrepBeat: Serial Entrepreneur Launches Venture In Breathable Yet Protective Masks

04/2021 WRAL TechWire: Triangle entrepreneur launches Aries USA to manufacture breathable, high protection face coverings

04/2021 WRAL TechWire: Chris Evans’ sixth startup, making high tech face masks, is different

04/2021 Innovation in Textiles: A mask for the working week

04/2021 NonWovens Industry: Aries Face Masks Meet ASTM Standards

02/2021 Triangle Business Journal: Next venture for Triangle entrepreneur: To make ‘most breathable masks on the planet’

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Press Releases

Aries Partners with ZVerse to Distribute and Sell Aries Face Masks

Collaboration joins leading face mask maker with creator of the ZShield line of award-winning face shields and breakthrough PPE products

Raleigh, NC —April 28, 2021 — Aries, maker of face masks and barrier face coverings, today announced a partnership with ZVerse, one of the leading providers of face shields in the United States, to distribute and sell the Aries Work Week Face Mask.

The new Aries Work Week mask is the only face mask on the market to combine the best comfort and fit with a high-filtration, breathable design that meets national standards for barrier face coverings. The mask will be sold alongside the ZShield line of face shield products and can be easily worn together to maximize protection from COVID-19.

“It’s great that Zverse can now provide their customers with a face mask solution that offers the highest levels of protection and is also comfortable to wear,” says Chris Evans, founder and CEO of Aries Masks. “Covering the nose, ears and eyes ensures safety and allows the wearer to be comfortable throughout their workday.”

COVID-19 spreads in tiny droplets from an infected person’s mouth or nose when they cough, sneeze, speak or breathe heavily. Experts recommend wearing a filtered face mask as a minimum threshold of good protection and recommend pairing a mask with a face shield for superior protection.

“We are excited to be a part of this great partnership with Aries. The Aries Work Week Mask is the ideal complement to the ZVerse lineup of PPE products and delivers the protection and comfort our customers rely on to keep themselves and their loved ones safe during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said ZVerse Founder & CEO John Carrington. “As one of the largest manufacturers of face coverings in the U.S., ZVerse is committed to providing the best product. We are finding that our customers love the Aries mask for its superior design, protection, vocal clarity and reliable comfort and feel confident knowing when to replace the mask for maximum performance.”

The Aries Face Mask is currently available for purchase in a 5-pack. Each mask is designed to last for 40 hours, or a typical 5-day work week, and as part of a special bundle offer with the ZShield Ultra on ZVerse.com. For bulk orders of the Aries Face Mask, contact Aries USA or visit https://zshield.com/pages/bulk-order.

About Aries
At Aries, we believe that wearing a mask should not be an unpleasant experience. What good is high filtration capacity if you are constantly removing or adjusting your mask throughout the day in order to breathe?
Aries is dedicated to creating the best protective mask solutions through innovation. The company has partnered with leading U.S. providers of polymers and engineered fabrics to make Captur, a novel, engineered fabric technology providing high levels of protective filtration combined with breathability. These superior masks solve the challenges of material availability, filtration, and comfort. Made 100% in the U.S., Aries ensures organizations are buying the highest quality mask to protect them and their employees. For more information, visit www.aries-usa.com.

About ZVerse
ZVerse was founded in 2013 by John Carrington in Columbia SC. ZVerse, a digital manufacturing ecosystem, currently provides the only CAD as a Service (CADaaS) platform and designer marketplace. ZVerse recently launched the next generation of its Digital Manufacturing Enablement (DME) platform, an AI drive workflow solution – a category defining technology for digital manufacturing and OEMs. In 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ZVerse adapted its business model to quickly produce and distribute its new personal protective equipment product, ZShield, to hundreds of thousands of citizens. To learn more visit zverse.com and zshield.com.

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Blog

Infographic: 10 Tips for Choosing the Best Mask

You want your employees to be safe AND comfortable as you get back to work. Ensuring your employees have high-quality, effective masks that are also comfortable to wear is paramount to your overall employee well-being. Here are 10 things to consider when purchasing masks for your workforce. Click on the graphic below to see the infographic.

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Press Releases

Aries Announces Work Week Barrier Face Covering to Protect Today’s Workforce

The nonwoven barrier face covering masks were designed to meet the new American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard F3502

Raleigh, NC —[April 13, 2021] — Aries, maker of barrier face coverings, today announced the public release of the Aries Work Week Barrier Face Covering, which meets the newly released ASTM standard F3502-21 at Level 2 (high performance) for both filtration and breathability. The Aries Work Week Barrier Face Covering provides business operators with a third-party tested and verified barrier face covering to protect their workforce for an entire 40-hour work week.

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

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Blog

Face Mask Filtration and Breathability: Yes, You Can Have Both

As vaccines are administered and restrictions are easing, more businesses are re-opening, and companies are bringing their employees back into the office. This raises concerns about employee safety and well-being given that COVID transmission is still possible.

While it still remains unclear if employers will be responsible for providing personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face masks (aka barrier face covering), for their employees, many are choosing to do so in the interest of preventing infection. With the shortage of medical masks, many people have turned to non-medical masks, such as cloth masks, as alternatives. It can be challenging to know which masks are effective while being comfortable enough to wear for an entire work day.