Press Release

Spark R&D Transitions from Manufacturing Splitboard Bindings and Accessories to Mask Molds and

Injection-Molded Parts for High-Efficiency Montana Masks


Bozeman, Mont. (April 15, 2020) – Spark R&D, the splitboard binding manufacturer based out of Bozeman, MT, has begun production on injection-molded mask parts for the Montana Mask project. The Montana Mask was designed out of Billings, Montana by Dusty Richardson, MD, Spencer E. Zaugg, DMD, and Colton Zaugg in the wake of personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages due to the COVID-19 crisis. It was designed to be an open-source, grassroots movement, where anyone can download the files and print the masks on a 3D printer.


Will Ritter, Spark R&D’s lead designer and co-owner, heard about the Montana Mask project and wanted to help.


“We're in a unique position to take the 3D printed mask into injection-molded production,” explains Ritter. “We do design, prototype, and manufacturing all in house, it's what we excel at. And I was sick of listening to the news and feeling helpless, this is something we can really do to help, and we have a whole crew of talented people at Spark to make this happen."


With the help of his team, Ritter created a mold out of aluminum on one of Spark’s many CNC machines, added it to the injection molding machine, and began producing prototype mask parts within a few days of learning about the mask project. By April 4, he was hand-delivering the first round of 2,400 masks components to Dr. Richardson.


The Montana Mask project was born out of the need for additional PPE for frontline healthcare workers. The design allows healthcare workers to use precut filtration material or cut up N95 surgical masks as the filters. One N95 surgical mask can make six filters for the Montana Mask. The plastic components to the mask can be sanitized after each use and worn again with new filters.


At this juncture, Spark R&D is only producing the plastic components for the masks. That includes the two parts – the main mouth and nose covering, and the small piece that holds the filter in the mask.


“We have been working with Montana hospitals to this point,” says Ritter. “We’re not able to sell individual masks or complete masks yet, but it’s something we’re looking into. Right now, we’re just focused on making as many as we can.”


Spark R&D has manufactured and delivered 28,000 masks so far and is not planning on slowing down.


Ritter says, “We’re looking forward to making splitboard bindings and accessories again, but until then, if there is a demand for masks, we’ll keep making them.”


The Montana Mask files Ritter and others have created can be found and downloaded on both the Make the Masks and Spark R&D websites.




About Spark R&D

Based out of Bozeman, MT Spark R&D is rider owned and operated, dedicated to pushing innovation in splitboarding since 2006. With a view of the Bridger Mountains from our shop, we design and build splitboard bindings and accessories with backcountry performance coming first.

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