Gareth Evans as Chief Technical/Design Officer is responsible for the Designs, manufacturing processes and strategies at Firstwave3D. Before Joining Firstwave3D
Just an Idea...
“So, this is the part where I get to talk about our journey and how cool our stuff is…” William Vablais, Founder and CEO
The Beginning – 35 Years Ago
Our story began over 35 years ago in the 1980’s when the two young men became good friends at McDonnell Douglas. Gareth Evans was a CAD/CAM design engineer and William (that’s me) was a systems engineer, both in our mid-20’s, with a passion to see the world. We both left to pursue very different careers, only to meet up again in 2020. This is how our new journey together began.
A New Journey Begins with COVID-19
After the world was hit with the COVID-19 pandemic, I was appalled to see the awful selection of masks available. Masks that didn’t protect well with open gaps, were uncomfortable and didn’t fit right, were hard to breathe through and communicate, were hot to wear and fogged up your glasses, caused blisters and skin rashes from wearing all day, and were even wasteful with their one-wear use. I wanted to create a mask solution that not only solved these problems but also offered lots of other benefits.
A Phone Call
As I was preparing to follow through on my mask mission, I happened to be fiddling around on LinkedIn when up popped Gareth’s profile. I wondered immediately if my old chappie from McDonnell Douglas was still twiddling on CAD systems. I called him and we strangely carried on our conversation from where we left off 35 years ago, igniting a creative spark that has sent us both spinning into this new amazing, crazy adventure.
Our Vision for a Better Mask Solution
Gareth and I were compelled to find the best mask solution that anyone could make.
A SMART mask, without compromises.
Bringing in a Global Team of Experts
Gareth and I alone are by no means experts in this field and that probably was a good thing because we were too oblivious to think we couldn’t do this. So, we went right along to do the very things others thought impossible.
But to do that… a lot of other things had to happen and many skilled people had to help. This is as much their story as it is now ours.
3D Print Master – 3d printing is an entire field full of jargon and technology. It allows an engineer to see what they have built in a computer-aided design software program, and build a physical model of it so that they can touch it and see where all the pieces fit and interact with each other. We found Guthrie Mason, a master at 3D printing who has been making all kinds of prototypes for companies around the world. Guthrie’s 3D printing has done this for our mask prototypes. Meet Guthrie here.
Electronics Engineer – Next, we needed an electronics engineer to design and lay out the circuit boards, populating, soldering and testing them before we wire them into the mask to provide advanced technology in our masks. An ex-colleague from my Microsoft days, Lyndsay Williams, who is a talented researcher and hardware engineer in the U.K, agreed to join our team. Lyndsay has engineered stay cool fans in all our masks and is bringing audio and Bluetooth technology to our advanced models. Meet Lyndsay here.
Creative Designer – Straps are usually an afterthought feature of masks and are often too flimsy or too tight. Thanks to a good buddy, I met Sarah Judy Fitzgerald; a young, hip fashion designer in the US. She has designed not only the straps made of Neoprene, a light but tough waterproof fabric used mostly in water gear, but also made the first mask cozy (personalized mask coverings). A special thanks to Randy Walker too, who has provided millimeter precision cutting with the straps ensuring a perfect fit. Meet Sarah here. Over several iterations we decided to move away from material straps and replace them with tube-straps which are comfortable, tough, soft and easily available. we designed a HALO that sits comfortably at the upper rear of the head to reduce slipping down your hair. and allows the user to easily DOFF and DON the mask. We have now standardized on the tube-straps across all our mask models.
Developing the PersonalAIR™ Mask
Here is the evolution of our PersonalAIR™ mask design, beginning in August of 2020
get to know us
over 40+ years in computing industry with an unlimited deep passion for connectingpeople and technology – during this
Guthrie Mason is also the CEO and CO-Founder of Gu3D Printing, LLC a Professional 3D Printing Service Bureau
Many More Team Members and Contributors
There are many more talented people from Greece, Poland, China, the U.S. and other countries, who have helped bring our vision to reality over the last year. .
Gareth and Will are compelled to find the best mask solution that anyone could make, a SMART facemask without compromises. So they brought in a team of experts from around the world to to help bring their vision to life.
Today and The Future
A family of PersonalAIR™ Masks
Now, we find ourselves less than a year later, ready to produce and ship two of our first mask models: PersonalAIR™ START and SAFE, that meet today’s mask needs:
We made a mask that treats not only the air entering the mechanism but also the air leaving, by using a double-paired filtration system of washable particulate and N95 filters.
For the (START/SAFE/XTRA/ULTRA) We included stay cool fans, made straps fully adjustable, and minimized the weight of the entire mask not to exceed 6oz by offloading the power pack. We also made the facepiece of silicone rubber.
Easy to set up and operate. We made the shell, facepiece and straps washable.
Plus, we made a commitment to create minimal waste by having multi-use particulate filters that are washable and reusable.
Technology is a wonderful thing when it is used for good. To create a personalized facepiece for any individual, we use a technology that can scan your face, and produce a custom-fit facepiece quickly and efficiently.
More Advanced Mask Models are on the Horizon. We’re building a family of PersonalAIR™ masks to suit your particular needs. Currently, we’re deep in development with several new models that will integrate audio functionality and Bluetooth connectivity. All features and customizations will work across all models.