Over 1 million surgical masks a day: Armbrust American sets up shop in Pflugerville

Lloyd Armbrust, founder and CEO of Armbrust American, developed an automated system to produce surgical face masks at a Pflugerville facility. (Taylor Jackson Buchanan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lloyd Armbrust, founder and CEO of Armbrust American, developed an automated system to produce surgical face masks at a Pflugerville facility. (Taylor Jackson Buchanan/Community Impact Newspaper)

Lloyd Armbrust, founder and CEO of Armbrust American, developed an automated system to produce surgical face masks at a Pflugerville facility. (Taylor Jackson Buchanan/Community Impact Newspaper)

Image description
One fully-automated assembly line creates 120 masks a minute. (Taylor Jackson Buchanan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
Armbrust American intends to produce in-demand personal protective equipment and to create opportunities for strategic manufacturing in the United States, said founder Lloyd Armbrust. (Taylor Jackson Buchanan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
The sterile production facility is FDA certified to produce medical-grade masks, Armbrust said. (Courtesy Armbrust American)
Image description
Armbrust American is ramping up production efforts to create 1.2 million masks per day. (Taylor Jackson Buchanan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
Online sales launched May 19 and include sample packs of 10 masks, boxed sets of 25 masks and boxed sets of 50 masks at this time. (Taylor Jackson Buchanan/Community Impact Newspaper)
In a 15,000-square-foot facility near SH 130, an assembly line of machinery creates 120 surgical masks a minute. As the prototype proves successful, Lloyd Armbrust, founder and CEO of Armbrust American, plans to ramp up production to 1.2 million masks a day.

“Typically, masks are made manually,” Armbrust said. “I realized I could speed up production and eliminate the high costs associated with labor by automating the process.”

As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, personal protective equipment such as surgical masks is in short supply. Armbrust saw the emerging need and launched a new business within a matter of months.

“In December, I started hearing about a viral pneumonia-like outbreak in China,” Armbrust said. “With virtually all the masks being produced in China, I wondered what the world would do if the virus were to spread.”

By automating a manufacturing process that is manual elsewhere, Armbrust has solved a riddle that bedevils many: how to produce high quality, low cost products at a high volume.


“Our lab uses automation to turn raw materials into quality surgical masks,” he said. “Our difference is in the quality of manufacturing and the sterile handling of the materials.”

For Armbrust, the business is also distinctly patriotic.

“I know I can make masks as cheaply as China can,” Armbrust said. “I have automation, and they don’t. And I have vertical integration. If I’m bringing the raw materials in and having face masks come out the other side, that’s the key to making the costs be really low.”

One measure of the success of his business, Armbrust said, will be the day an American company does not have to choose between a low-cost mask made abroad and a higher-cost one made in the United States, he said.

"We don’t need a bailout," he said. "We don’t need other countries. We need the finest quality products with the most effective materials, full supply chain control, and no foreign dependence. We need made in America, made in Texas.”

He said he started testing his automated process May 6. Less than two weeks later, on May 19, he launched online sales. Current inventory includes sample packs of 10 masks, boxed sets of 25 masks and boxed sets of 50 masks.

“I’ve had so many people say they’re still having difficulties finding masks,” he said. “I just want to get masks in peoples’ hands.”

Armbrust believes the need for face masks has a future. He said he thinks health care workers, construction workers and even individuals who are not required to wear protective equipment for their jobs will continue to purchase masks well into the future.

“While this crisis was our launching point, I think demand will continue to grow,” he said.

As he invests in the area and looks to transform ways of “old manufacturing thinking,” Armbrust said he hopes his business has staying power in the Austin area.

“I’ve made Texas my home,” Armbrust said. “I always felt this deep bond here. It is really personally exciting to build this business here in Texas. I hope that this is the start of something big, something long-lasting, a cornerstone of the area.”

Armbrust American

3813A Helios Way, Pflugerville

512-807-0744

www.armbrustusa.com
By Taylor Jackson Buchanan
Taylor Buchanan joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2018 after completing a master of journalism degree from the University of Texas. She worked as the senior reporter for Community Impact's Southwest Austin edition and is now the editor for the company's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition.


MOST RECENT

Williamson County added 54 confirmed cases of the coronavirus Sept. 18. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Williamson County adds 54 confirmed cases of coronavirus Sept. 18

As of Sept. 18, eight patients are hospitalized, four are in intensive care units and seven are on a ventilator.

Round Rock ISD families can now monitor the number of confirmed positive coronavirus cases by campus. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Round Rock ISD launches COVID-19 dashboard

Round Rock ISD families can now monitor the number of confirmed coronavirus cases by campus.

Central Health administrative building in Austin
Central Health finalizes budget with increased tax rate, more health care services for low-income residents

Local health care district Central Health is budgeting a nearly $20 million increase in health care delivery services for Austin’s low-income residents.

"This season is a big, black box, and there are a lot of unknowns, as far as what the season's going to look like," said Dr. Bradley Berg, a BSW pediatrics doctor in Round Rock. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Baylor Scott & White Health to host 9 Austin-area drive-thru flu shot clinics

"This season is a big, black box, and there are a lot of unknowns, as far as what the season's going to look like," said Dr. Bradley Berg, a BSW pediatrics doctor in Round Rock.

Chief Academic and Innovation Officer Brandy Baker said the act of maintaining two separate learning environments could lead to a one-two punch of teachers burning out and students not receiving the quality of education they need. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Pflugerville ISD outlines struggles of balancing in-person, virtual curricula

Based on current struggles teachers are facing, Chief Academic and Innovation Officer Brandy Baker said she will distribute a survey to teachers the week of Sept. 20 to determine struggles, impact and needs regarding simultaneous on-campus and virtual instruction.

Over 11,000 students returned to RRISD campuses this week as in-person learning resumed Sept. 15. (Community Impact staff)
'I’ve cried almost every day': Inside Round Rock ISD's return to in-person learning

Over 11,000 students returned to RRISD campuses this week as in-person learning resumed Sept. 15.

Dr. Sam Rolon is a physician for Baylor St. Luke's Medical Group Creekside Family Medicine in The Woodlands. (Courtesy St. Luke's Health)
Q&A: St. Luke's physician shares advice on flu season, vaccine and prevention

The influenza vaccine is recommended for nearly all patients of all ages ahead of this year's flu season, Dr. Sam Rolon said.

student in mask
TEA launches statewide COVID-19 dashboard for public schools

The Texas Education Agency, in collaboration with the Texas Department of State Health Services, has launched its latest COVID-19 dashboard for positive cases in Texas public schools.

Williamson County added 35 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus and two new deaths Sept. 17. (Community Impact staff)
Williamson County adds 35 confirmed cases, 2 deaths to coronavirus count Sept. 17

Of the total cases reported, 8,187 are estimated to have recovered.

Austin City Limits Music Festival will present a free virtual broadcast from Oct. 9-11. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Free virtual broadcast of ACL Music Festival to be held Oct. 9-11 and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Austin area.

Pflugerville's testing location is operated from 8 a.m.-noon Monday through Saturday where a maximum of 300 people can be tested each day at the site. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Pflugerville to relocate COVID-19 testing site

Pflugerville's testing location is operated from 8 a.m.-noon Monday through Saturday where a maximum of 300 people can be tested each day at the site.

As overall residential sales decreased 7.5% in Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto in August, townhouse sales skyrocketed by 157.7% in the region. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Townhouse sales spike by 158% in Round Rock, Pflugerville

Overall residential sales decreased by 7.5% in August as townhouse sales skyrocketed.