VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — London Bridge Trading has been making tactical gear for military, first responders and law enforcement for years at its factory near Naval Air Station Oceana.
Now, it has added hi-tech masks to its production as both a shield and a weapon against coronavirus.
The masks have material infused with copper, and the technology was pioneered by Cupron, based in Richmond. Sentara Healthcare has been using the material for several years in its hospital textiles such as blankets, gowns and towels. Cupron came up with the masks earlier this year not only as a logical extension to the hospital line of products, but as a rapid response to coronavirus.
David Bohannon, president of LBT, Inc., showed WAVY News two kinds of copper masks his company is making during a factory tour.
“I believe 24,000 face masks have gone from Cupron to Sentara that we have made,” Bohannon said.
Many masks are washable, but they don’t have the “mettle” to work like these ones. Cupron says while the cloth blocks the virus, the copper infused in the cloth is antiviral and kills the virus.
The copper cloth is made in North Carolina and then sent to London Bridge Trading for finishing.
Bohannon says it’s important for his workforce of 250 — split between here and El Paso, Texas — to be working on a joint venture that’s helping people on the front lines of the crisis.
“I think it’s awesome for us. We’re a tactical nylon company and we make equipment for the United States military, law enforcement and first responders,” he said.
At peak production, the shop can assemble tens of thousands of masks each week. Cupron says the copper woven into the masks is as effective as bleach at killing the virus — and never loses that quality regardless of repeated use.
Cupron CEO Chris Andrews says he’s already sold the copper masks to the U.S. submarine fleet, and he’s in talks with delivery services, universities and a growing list of potential customers.
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