With the coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading worldwide, International Fiber Journal is tracking stories relevant to the textile fiber industry. Facemasks, personal protective equipment, medical supplies and wipes are among the fiber-intensive technologies particularly relevant to the COVID-19 response effort. And as manufacturers of these technologies and others struggle to meet global demand in the face of the growing COVID-19 pandemic, news stories are breaking quickly. Here we will post relevant news stories on an ongoing basis. Please check back for regular updates. If you have news that you feel should be added to this summary report, please email it to Matt Migliore at email@example.com.
Most recent update: May 28, 2020
Huntsman, Bao Minh partner to produce high-grade isolation gowns in support of COVID-19 response
Huntsman Textile Effects and Bao Minh Textile, one of the largest woven fabric producers in Vietnam, are collaborating to produce fabric that meets the stringent performance standards required of isolation gowns. High-quality medical gowns are essential protective wear for healthcare workers combatting the global COVID-19 pandemic, but they are in short supply worldwide.
Bao Minh Textile will initially treat 760,000 meters of woven fabric with a carefully curated combination of Huntsman Textile Effects barrier effect solutions and auxiliaries. This fabric is sufficient to produce 345,000 high-grade isolation gowns.
Bao Minh Textile’s isolation gown fabric relies on a range of Huntsman pretreatment, dyeing and finishing solutions. These include CLARITE ONE, an all-in-one pretreatment for peroxide bleaching; NOVACRON and TERASIL dyes; PHOBOL CP-C, an excellent oil-, water- and stain-repellent finish; and PHOBOTEX RSY, a non-fluorinated durable water repellent with extremely high washing resistance. PHOBOL EXTENDER XAN is also applied to further increase wash durability.
Johns Manville begins producing nonwoven material for Level 3 medical gowns
The Johns Manville plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, has started production to make nonwoven fabric that will be used for manufacturing of urgently needed disposable medical gowns used in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.
This is the second move by Johns Manville to quickly develop and launch a product to support the response COVID-19 virus. In April, production started in Richland, Mississippi, of nonwoven media for the manufacturing of face masks.
“Given the urgent need for action,” Vasuta said, “we quickly decided to build on our own capabilities and develop a coated product to supply the domestic medical gown manufacturing industry.”
The new polyester spunbond nonwoven is designed for the production of Level 3 medical gowns. “The fabric offers superior liquid barrier performance compared to materials used for Level 1 and Level 2 medical gowns, while also providing comfort and stitch-strength,” said Souvik Nandi, Director Nonwovens Technology at Johns Manville Engineered Products.
The new fabric is formally known as Evalith® 017/120H3 and is a coated continuous filament, calendared polyester nonwoven. It meets the requirements for a Level 3 medical gown as established by ANSI/AAMI PB70:2012 Liquid barrier performance and classification of protective apparel and drapes intended for use in health care facilities. Per this standard, the material was tested to
Pitt researchers create durable, washable textile coating that can repel viruses
Masks, gowns, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) are essential for protecting healthcare workers. However, the textiles and materials used in such items can absorb and carry viruses and bacteria, inadvertently spreading the disease the wearer sought to contain.
When the coronavirus spread amongst healthcare professionals and left PPE in short supply, finding a way to provide better protection while allowing for the safe reuse of these items became paramount.
Research from the LAMP Lab at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering may have a solution. The lab has created a textile coating that can not only repel liquids like blood and saliva but can also prevent viruses from adhering to the surface. The work was recently published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.
Read the full story: https://www.engineering.pitt.edu/News/2020/Virus-Repelling-Textile-Coating/
Wipes in the age of COVID-19
Wipes are an important technology for minimizing the impact of viral outbreaks like COVID-19 because they are a tool that is premeasured, premoistened and not susceptible to human error – in that they require no mixing or measuring to be effective.
Read the full story: https://fiberjournal.com/wipes-in-the-age-of-covid-19/
Oerlikon to supply meltblown nonwoven systems to support manufacture of 50M respiratory masks per month for European market
FleeceforEurope, a newly established partnership between Lindenpartner, Düsseldorf-based Kloepfel Group and Berlin-based industrial consultancy, Bechinger & Heymann, is set to make 50 million class FFP1 through FFP3 respiratory masks a month using Oerlikon Nonwoven’s high-end meltblown technology. The initiative aims to manufacture and distribute masks exclusively for the European market from the beginning of fall. Meltblow nonwoven material is in high demand to provide the protection required of class FFP1 through FFP3 respiratory masks.
Cotton and textile sectors call for collaborative action as they aim to recover from COVID-19 pandemic
The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), The Committee For International Co-Operation Between Cotton Associations (CICCA), The International Cotton Association (ICA), The International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) and the International Textile Manufacturing Federation have announced an initiative to establish “a common set of values and shared commitment to safe trading and contract sanctity across the global cotton community.”
The collaboration is a response to the challenge of ensuring that fair and equitable trade practices govern the commercial relationships throughout the cotton and textile supply chains. “We
believe that these principles have never been more important than they are now,” noted the organizations in a statement. “The loss of demand resulting from COVID-19 and the preventative measures that are being applied throughout the world affects the cotton and textile sectors from end to end. It is essential for each trading partner to be mindful of each other’s position. We must strive to find mutual agreements which keep in mind our shared commitment to the long-term health of the international cotton and textile trade, and to the principles of fair and equitable trading practices on which it is built.”
The organizations are calling for those engaged in the cotton and textile value chains to commit to:
• Take actions that are considered and designed to contribute to the recovery of the cotton and textile sectors in 2021 and beyond
• Communicate, collaborate and be responsive to the needs of their counterparties
• Continue to respect the trade rules that govern the sectors
• Recognize and publicize positive behaviors. Identify and call out negative, counterproductive commercial behaviors.
Fitesa inks deal with Reicofil to expand its PPE capacity worldwide
Fitesa signed four new projects with technology supplier Reicofil. The package includes state-of-the-art equipment that will significantly increase capacity to serve the healthcare and hygiene markets, making nonwovens for medical gowns, drapes, surgical and N95 facemasks, diapers and sanitary products.
According to Fitesa, the exact locations of these projects will be disclosed in due time, but the intent is to strengthen the company’s global footprint without focus on any one region.
INDA launches portal highlighting nonwovens industry’s efforts in responding to COVID-19
INDA, the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, launched a new portal on its website highlighting its member companies who are working to support the COVID-19 response worldwide. The portal, called “Allies Against COVID-19” is designed to connect suppliers with buyers and increases awareness of actions by nonwoven & engineered fabric producers in the fight against COVID-19.
The website details such actions from 71 INDA member companies that span the entire supply chain. The actions range from advancement in cutting edge viricidal and antimicrobial treatments to increased capacity and through-put to manufacture facemasks, gowns, disinfectant wipes, and community outreach. Companies are listed alphabetically and include contacts and website links.
“INDA is a resource connector in this effort to provide the necessary PPE materials and disinfectant wipes to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re witnessing fast and strong contributions by the nonwoven & engineered fabrics community in this effort. INDA is proud to support our members by giving notice to their efforts to contribute to this noble cause,” said Dave Rousse, INDA President.
* International Fiber Journal is owned by INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry
Scramble for masks sees demand soar for Germany’s ‘golden fleece’
Forget gold, copper, silver and steel. The hottest commodity of the coronavirus crisis is a little-known synthetic fabric called meltblown.
Used to make the medical masks that protect front-line hospital staff the world over from Covid-19, it is now so valuable that it has been nicknamed the “golden fleece”. European producers can barely believe the amounts Asian buyers are prepared to pay for the stuff.
“One Hong Kong trader was recently offering €100 per kilogram — ten times the pre-crisis price,” said Pierre Wiertz, head of Edana, the global trade association for manufacturers of nonwovens.
Read the full story: https://www.ft.com/content/b26e82b8-97ab-495b-a0ab-203708868f9b (subscription required)
The Nonwovens Institute announces COVID-19 webinar series
The Nonwovens Institute will be presenting a series of six webinars providing critical technical information and insight on the value and importance nonwovens technology for infection prevention.
The first webinar, “The Anatomy of N95 and Surgical Masks,” will take place May 20, 2020, 11:00am – 12:00pm EDT. Registration is free for NWI Members and $50.00 for nonmembers. Dr. Behnam Pourdeyhimi, the executive director of the The Nonwovens Institute, will examine the specific materials, construction, and performance of various facemasks in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic. He will discuss the key attributes of nonwovens technology and their effect on filtration efficiency and user protection.
Registration Link: https://reporter.ncsu.edu/link/courseview?courseID=NWI-WBR-01&deptName=NWI
Other webinar topics include:
- Webinar #2: Air and Aerosol Filtration Basics
- Webinar #3: Meltblown Fabrics and Process in PPE
- Webinar #4: Spunbond Fabrics and Process in PPE
- Webinar #5: Gowns
- Webinar #6 Wipes and Other Products for PPE.
Techmer PM develops technology to help meltblown fabrics maintain electrical charge
As demand surges for facemasks during the COVID-19 pandemic, Techmer PM, LLC, has developed a technology to improve the efficacy of the fabrics used in the production of such masks.
The technology, called the Charge Enhancer, is used during the production of meltblown nonwoven fabrics to help the resulting masks meet the filtration performance requirements set forth by ASTM F2100.
Techmer PM provides its Charge Enhancer in pellet form to producers of meltblown nonwovens, who then add it to polypropylene in a concentration of 4- 5%.
As the extruded nonwoven comes off the production line in roll form, the material is subjected to an electrical charge via an air plasma treatment, also known as “corona” charging (no relation to the coronavirus). The Charge Enhancer technology helps the meltblown fabric enhance and retain the electrical charge imparted by corona charging.
“Without the Charge Enhancer, the mask media would struggle to retain a filtration efficiency of ≥95%,” said Bhushan Deshpande, Techmer PM’s vice president of technology.
Techmer PM is also testing new technology designed to provide more permanent charge-enhancing effects compared to what is currently available. “This newer technology will be well suited for mask manufacturers looking to develop reusable masks,” according to Deshpande.
Midwest Textiles, Hollingsworth & Vose partner to develop homemade facemask kit
Midwest Textiles and Hollingsworth & Vose (H&V) are collaborating on a new ready-to-sew face mask kit for the general public. The new collaboration between Midwest and H&V offers an improvement to the everyday consumer by adding a layer of Nanoweb FM to the mask.
Nanoweb FM is new filtration media made by H&V, designed for use in homemade face masks.
“H&V is one of the world’s leading producers of filtration media for face masks and many other filtration applications. By partnering with Midwest, and through the development of Nanoweb® FM media, we are able to help support individuals and communities across the country that are struggling to obtain basic levels of protection,” said Mike Clark, Division President at H&V. “Our new Nanoweb® FM media was designed specifically for general use in homemade face masks, and can be inserted in a face mask pocket or stitched into a disposable pleated mask.”
Consumers can purchase ready-to-sew face mask kits and Nanoweb® FM media for homemade masks at www.sitnsewfabrics.com. One kit containing 4 masks will cost $24.95, and it is estimated to take 15 minutes to sew and assemble each mask.
Bondex ramps up production of material for PPE & N95 facemasks
To support the industry demand for PPE materials, Bondex, a producer of carded thermalbond, hydroentangled and needlepunch nonwovens, is dedicating a portion of its capacity to produce materials designed for use in N95 mask construction and materials for use in isolation gowns and other PPE applications.
Bondex develops a polypropyelene nonwoven that is used in both mask and isolation gown applications, as well as hydroentangled polyester that is also used in the construction of mask materials.
“We have implemented plans as necessary to continue our supply to our customers though the pandemic crisis,” says Bondex president Brian Little. “We have also recognized the needs in society to help battle this COVID-19 pandemic so we are adding staff in order to supply technical nonwovens for selected PPE applications in order to support these key initiatives.”
ITMF study shows impact of coronavirus pandemic on the global textile industry
The International Textile Manufacturing Federation (ITMF) has conducted a survey among ITMF Members about the impact the Corona pandemic had on the global textile value chain, especially on current orders and expected turnover in 2020. In total 34 companies from around the world participated in addition to two national textile associations with several hundred participants.
The results show that on average companies in all regions of the world suffered significant numbers of cancellations and/or postponements. On world average, current orders dropped by -8.0%. The decrease in orders ranges from – 4.0% in South America to -13.3% in Africa.
Part I results: https://itmf.org/images/dl/press-releases/2020/Corona-Survey-1st-2020.04.01-Press%20Release-FINAL.pdf
Part II results: https://itmf.org/images/dl/press-releases/2020/Corona-Survey-2nd-2020.04.06-Press%20Release-FINAL.pdf
Part III results: https://itmf.org/images/dl/press-releases/2020/Corona-Survey-3nd-2020.04.29-Press%20Release.pdf
NCTO calls for Executive Order instituting ‘Buy American’ policy for PPE materials
National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) President and CEO, Kim Glas, issued a statement urging the government to institute “Buy American” policy changes to help bolster U.S. manufacturers producing personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If the government is sincere about reconstituting a U.S. production chain for medical personal protective equipment (PPE) to resolve the drastic shortages we are experiencing during the current pandemic, it is going to have to make key policy changes to help incentivize domestic production,” said Glas. “A strong Buy American mandate for these vital healthcare materials needs to be instituted for all federal agencies, coupled with other reasonable production incentives, to help ensure a strong U.S. manufacturing base for these essential products.”
Citing the U.S. Department of Defense’s fiber-to-finished product Buy American rule for military textiles, Glas said the model for such a program is already in place for the military and would just need to be replicated to ensure the supply of PPE during emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Expanding domestic purchase requirements through Executive Order and other legislative initiatives will ensure that PPE production through U.S. supply chains that have been created overnight don’t evaporate as soon as this crisis is over,” said Glas.
Oerlikon to produce 1M facemasks per month; takes significant orders for meltblown technology
Oerlikon Nonwoven converted its R&D laboratory systems in Neumünster, Germany, in early March to manufacture nonwovens to provide oronasal facemasks to small local businesses and local companies. The laboratory system at the R&D Center is normally used solely for research and customer trials. It was never conceived for continuous operation in its original form. Now Oerlikon Nonwoven has made further investments in order to enable continuous operation in the laboratory. With this, material for more than one million protective masks a month can be manufactured.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, the company has received more than 500 inquiries that we are progressively dealing with. The laboratory has run out of raw materials and new orders for replacement materials had to be placed before Easter – with current delivery times of approx. three weeks. Once raw materials arrive, production will be resumed and considerably expanded in May. Oerlikon has partnered with companies to convert the raw materials into masks for end use.
Oerlikon Nonwoven has also fired up the production of the machines and systems used for its meltblown technology. The demand from Germany, Europe and the rest of the world has quickly secured the company a boom in orders, reaching in the mid-range double-digit millions. The company will be commissioning the first meltblown system at the site of a leading Western European nonwovens producers in the second quarter of 2020. This system will be deployed exclusively in the manufacture of nonwovens for respiratory masks.
A mathematical approach to meltblown production efficiency
Nonwovens production is currently attracting more attention than ever before from the general public, because in times of the corona pandemic, nonwovens are vital for infection protection in the medical sector and also for the protection of the entire population. Disposable bed linen in hospitals, surgical gowns, mouthguards, wound protection pads and compresses are some examples of nonwoven products. Especially in intensive care and geriatric care, disposable products made of nonwovens are used due to the special hygiene requirements. At the moment there are clear bottlenecks in the production of these materials. For the meltblown nonwovens class, however, it is difficult to increase production efficiency because meltblown processes are highly sensitive to process fluctuations and material impurities.
Although nonwovens are not all the same, the rough principle of their production is relatively similar to all industrially manufactured nonwovens: molten polymer is pressed through many fine nozzles, stretched and cooled down in an air stream and thus deposited into the typical white webs. “Meltblown” stands for the submicron fiber process whose nonwovens are responsible for the decisive filter function in face masks.
With meltblown technology, nonwoven fabrics are produced directly from granules. A special spinning process in combination with high-speed hot air is used to produce fine-fibered nonwovens with different structures. The fibers are highly stretched by the turbulent air flow. During this process they swirl in the air, become entangled and fall more or less randomly onto a conveyor belt where they are further consolidated – a very complex process. Nonwovens manufacturers around the world are striving to massively increase their production capacities.
This is where Fraunhofer ITWM’s software comes into play. “Our Fiber Dynamics Simulation Tool FIDYST is used to predict the movement of the fibers, their falling and the orientation with which they are laid down on the conveyor belt. Depending on the process settings, turbulence characteristics are generated and thus nonwoven qualities are created that differ in structure, fiber density and strength,” explains Dr. Walter Arne from the Fraunhofer ITWM. He has been working at the institute for years on the simulation of various processes involving fibers and filaments.
The methodology is well transferable to meltblown processes. In these processes, one of the specific features is the simulation of filament stretching in a turbulent air flow – how the stretching takes place, the dynamics of the filaments and the diameter distribution. These are all complex aspects that have to be taken into account, but also the flow field or the temperature distribution. The simulations of the scientists at the Fraunhofer ITWM then provide a qualitative and quantitative insight into the fiber formation in such meltblown processes – unique in the world in this form when it comes to simulate a turbulent spinning process (meltblown).
Lenzing, Palmers form new company, Hygiene Austria, with a focus on protective mask production
Lenzing AG and Palmers Textil AG found “Hygiene Austria LP GmbH”, in which Lenzing AG holds 50.1% and Palmers Textil AG 49.9%. The newly founded company will start producing and selling protective masks for the domestic and European markets from May 2020.
Over the past few weeks, Lenzing AG and Palmers Textil AG have invested several million euros in a modern production infrastructure at the Wiener Neudorf location and secured the corresponding raw materials for protective masks production. In a first step, the company produces so-called mouth-nose protective masks (MNS) and surgical protective masks of class EN14683. Hygiene Austria LP GmbH plans to increase its capacities to over 25 million masks per month over the next few weeks and to expand this business geographically as well.
The demand for high-quality MNS and respiratory masks for medical personnel is increasing rapidly, and there is real competition on the international market for these products. In order to sustainably secure domestic supply now and in the future and to strengthen the business location, the two companies Lenzing AG and Palmers Textil AG have now set a milestone with their own competence center for hygiene based in Austria. Hygiene Austria LP GmbH thus makes a significant contribution to combating the Covid-19 pandemic and ensures the long-term supply of these critical goods in Austria in high quality.
“We decided to pool our knowledge, network and experience in a competence center for hygiene together with our partner Palmers. The aim of this joint venture is to provide the citizens of Austria and Europe with the best possible protection through locally manufactured, high-quality products,” says Stefan Doboczky, CEO of Lenzing AG. „Masks will continue to play an important role in our daily lives and we are proud that we were able to achieve our goal of an industrial production so quickly together with our partner Palmers.”
KARL MAYER proving machines to manufacture up to 250k facemasks per month
KARL MAYER is working with industry partners to ramp up facemask production, leveraging its double needle bar raschel machine to enable the production of roughly a quarter of a million masks per month. The masks are produced entirely without the need of any sewing work. Two models are available for the various demands.
Type 1 is produced at short notice and is suitable for everyday life. Due to their 3D shape, these masks have a tight fit and good wearing properties. They offer a convenient air exchange, a soft skin feeling, and prevent friction points on the ears, even after long-term use. The masks can be reused after their utilization. Simply wash and dry them, and the next application can start immediately.
Type 2 provides all the advantages of type 1, but it can be equipped with a replaceable nonwoven lining via a pocket. This increases the filtration capacity, at the same time ensuring minimum waste after use.
Regarding the filtering effect, the certification process is currently underway for a medical standard for both mask types.
To ensure a fast use of the face masks in Germany, KARL MAYER equipped a customer with the required machine technology and the instructions for the production of the masks. The mask manufacture will start by the end of April.
Once the installed KARL MAYER machine is running at full speed, it is possible to produce up to 400 masks per hour or 240,000 pieces per month. At the same time, KARL MAYER is working on reducing the production time for additional machines, so that capacity can be increased as quickly as possible. By mid-May we can achieve a production of up to half a million masks per month.
Essity ramps up facemask production
Essity, a Stockholm-based provider of health and hygiene products, has acquired three new machines for large-scale production of facemasks to support COVID-19 response efforts. With this investment, the Essity will be producing facemasks in factories in Mexico, Sweden and the United States.
“The demand for facemasks in the fight against COVID-19 is substantial and with this investment we hope to meet some of this demand. Contributing to society is one of our key priorities under the current circumstances,” said Donato Giorgio, president of Global Manufacturing at Essity.
The machines are expected to begin operation by Q4 2020, and Essity will be able to provide facemasks to health and elderly care and for internal use.
Essity previously announced a redirected production in Sweden and the development of surgical masks for health and elderly care use. The development has been in close dialogue with the Swedish government and the National Board of Health and Welfare.
Employees at Essity’s production facilities outside Gothenburg have, over the course of just a few weeks, redirected production and developed a surgical mask for healthcare use. The masks are undergoing quality tests in partnership with Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE) to ensure that they meet the requirements and needs for healthcare use.
Monforts provides industrial-scale testing for companies developing PPE finishes to assist in COVID-19 response
In the current fight against COVID-19, a number of formulators of textile finishing chemicals have rushed out new antiviral and antimicrobial treatments intended for PPE (personal protective equipment) such as face masks and medical gowns and drapes.
These finishing chemicals have naturally already been thoroughly tested in laboratories and their effectiveness verified at laboratory or pilot scale. However, they are new to many manufacturers of textiles and nonwovens now preparing to use them on an industrial level.
“We know that in this current, unprecedented situation, many of our customers are rapidly preparing to transition from their usual manufacturing programmes to the production of PPE items,” says Klaus Heinrichs, vice president at Monforts. “Some, such as Trident and Welspun in India, which both operate a number of our machinery ranges, have already embarked on new PPE production programmes.
The three lines at the ATC situated at the Monforts HQ in Mönchengladbach, are industrial scale and trialing new products on them goes beyond lab or pilot plant testing to rapidly identify any problems that might occur once full production is underway.
The Monforts teleservice team is also fully available as normal to help customers via remote service on trouble shooting issues.
Taiwan forms surgical mask supply chain, donates 15M units to countries battling COVID-19
The Taiwan Textile Federation (TTF) is working with a range of industry organizations to form a complete surgical mask supply chain by integrating upstream, midstream, and downstream textile industries.
With the help of textile manufacturers such as Formosa Plastic Group, Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corporation, Far Eastern New Century Corporation, KNH Enterprise Co., Ltd., China Surgical Dressings Center Co., Ltd. and Chang Hong Machinery Co., Ltd. etc., the organization said Taiwan has transformed from an importing country for surgical masks to the second-largest surgical mask producer worldwide with daily production capacity of 15 million units in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Taiwan has donated 15 million surgical masks to support medical staffs in countries with severe coronavirus outbreak, and will continue to provide support to the international community, according to the Taiwan Textile Federation. Under the Taiwan-U.S. epidemic prevention cooperation framework and in the spirit of “Taiwan can help!”, Taiwan has donated 2 million surgical masks to the U.S. and will continue to help strengthening protection for frontline medical personnel by providing 100,000 urgently needed surgical masks every week.
NatureWorks, NWI partner to produce spunbond-based nonwoven material for N95 facemasks
As the world faces a critical shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical workers confronting the COVID-19 crisis, a long-standing partnership between NatureWorks and the Nonwovens Institute (NWI) at North Carolina State University (NC State) has resulted in a new spunbond nonwoven technology enabling the production of at least 10 million additional N95 surgical masks. NWI has converted the use of its research and training pilot production line to produce the face mask materials, and NatureWorks has donated the Ingeo resin needed to produce the spunbond material.
“Because of the COVID-19 crisis, we took the spunbond technology and created a new generation of unique filters that have excellent filtering capability without needing to be charged, meaning they can potentially be reused after cleaning with peroxide, or an alcohol solution,” says Behnam Pourdeyhimi, executive director of NWI, Wilson College of Textiles associate dean for industry research. and extension, and William A. Klopman distinguished professor. “Because these materials are also strong they can be cut and sewn by traditional techniques.”
The new nonwoven fabric is a bicomponent fiber made of Ingeo biopolymer (PLA) and polypropylene (PP), providing significant strength and bulk with equal effectiveness in filtration. Additionally, Ingeo improves the productivity of the spunbond process by at least 30%. Leveraging these benefits, NWI’s pilot line can produce enough material to make 2 million masks per week.
Berry outlines COVID-19 actions, launches new media for facemask materials
Berry Global announced strategic initiatives to increase production of face mask materials. The initiatives include the company designating additional capacity for the production of facemask materials in North America and introducing a new material for facemasks in Europe. With demand outpacing current supply for facemask filter media, the product development team at Berry has responded to deliver innovative solutions in a matter of weeks to support the demand. These solutions include pivoting existing manufacturing assets and creating alternative materials for facemasks.
To address the ever increasing demand for facemask material in the United States, Berry has expanded its proprietary Meltex platform to add meltblown capacity in Waynesboro, Virginia. This capacity was converted from a pilot line into one which provides full commercial output. The line will make meltblown materials, which will ultimately be used in surgical-grade face masks along with N95 and N99 respirators. This added capacity will support the manufacturing of approximately 200 million facemasks annually, according to the company.
In addition to its Waynesboro facility, Berry has a number of North American nonwovens manufacturing facilities which are rapidly producing materials that help protect against the spread of COVID-19. The added capacity in Waynesboro is complementary to the company’s existing portfolio, producing incremental output surgical-grade materials serving the North American market.
Berry also launched an extension to its Synergex range of products, Synergex ONE, a new media for facemask applications. Developed to initially meet the new facemask categories for general population, the aim is to quickly bring the media up to EN 14683:2019 standards for surgical masks. The newly introduced Synergex ONE provides a multilayer nonwoven composite product in a single sheet, as an alternative to traditional facemask layer structures. This new material will be manufactured in Europe and serve the European market and is available immediately.
Don & Low producing medical-grade fabric to help meet PPE needs in the UK
UK-based Don & Low produced is producing clinical-grade fabric and is working with the government and health authorities to co-ordinate some of Britain’s biggest manufacturers to turn the fabric into hospital gowns. Burberry, which is involved in the project, has retooled its factory in Castleford, West Yorkshire, from making trench coats to produce protective masks and clothing.
Will Campbell, sales manager at Don & Low, said that its factory had dedicated 100 per cent of capacity to the NHS. “Once in full-scale production, we will be producing the material 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the next three months,” he said. The factory has received an order from the government to make 7.4 million metres by May, which will be sewn and welded into 3.5 million gowns at other sites.
The government has issued a call to arms for garment manufacturers to switch their factory lines to PPE. However, most British retailers have shifted clothing production overseas, meaning that there are few remaining textile factories in the UK to produce the number of gowns required.
Read the full story: https://www.donlow.co.uk/gb/en/news/New%20medical-grade%20fabric%20to%20support%20NHS%20needs/
Source: thetimes.co.uk & donlow.co.uk
Achieving US self-sufficiency on meltblown fabric for facemasks
The current COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the reliance by the U.S. on Asian supply chains for much needed Personal Protective Equipment essential to deal with the situation. Of primary importance is the supply of medical/surgical facemasks and gowns for healthcare workers. INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, is currently assisting many government groups trying to address this issue. I
NDA’s president, Dave Rousse, outlines what would be needed for the U.S. to become self-sufficient in the key material area impacting face masks so we do not encounter shortages in times of critical need.
NCTO calls 90-day tariff deferral on U.S. textile imports ‘counterproductive’
The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), representing the full spectrum of U.S. textiles from fiber through finished products, issued a statement from NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas today, voicing concern over the administration’s executive order instituting a non-reciprocal 90-day deferral on certain tariffs. The temporary postponement of duties does not apply to products with antidumping or countervailing duties or those products subject to penalty duties under Section 232, 201 and 301. As further details of the order emerge, we are closely reviewing the implications for the U.S. textile industry.
“At a time when domestic textile producers and its workforce have mobilized to transform their production lines to manufacture the personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies for frontline healthcare and medical workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, the administration’s decision to defer duties for 90 days on the vast majority of products imported into the United States is counterproductive.
“This move contradicts the administration’s top stated priority of rebuilding American manufacturing and buying American and could have severe negative implications for the entire U.S. textile industry, whose companies and workforce already are facing enormous economic hardship.
“We support the need to temporarily eliminate barriers to the entry of emergency medical supplies and certain PPE inputs tied directly to the COVID-19 response. But make no mistake, the key drivers behind efforts to defer tariffs have nothing to do with facilitating access to PPE products or stopping the spread of COVID-19.”
Read the full NCTO statement: http://www.ncto.org/ncto-statement-on-administrations-90-day-tariff-deferral/
U.S. Cotton partners with FDA, Gates Foundation, UnitedHealth Group & Quantigen to supply cotton swabs for coronavirus testing
Parkdale Mills subsidiary U.S. Cotton, the nation’s largest manufacturer of cotton swabs, has joined in an effort with the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the Gates Foundation, UnitedHealth Group and Quantigen to ramp up production of spun synthetic swabs to help the country’s frontline health care workers administering tests for the COVID-19 disease.
U.S. Cotton has developed a fully synthetic, polyester-based Q-tip-type swab that can be used in coronavirus diagnostic testing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration just announced that these synthetic swabs – with a design similar to Q-tips – could be used to test patients for the coronavirus.
U.S. Cotton, based in Cleveland, Ohio, plans to leverage its large-scale manufacturing capacity to rapidly increase production of large quantities of the polyester swabs, which are in short supply for testing kits across the country.
The FDA has determined that spun synthetic swabs can be used in COVID-19 testing based on the results from a clinical investigation stemming from its collaboration with UnitedHealth Group, the Gates Foundation and Quantigen.
Lubrizol joins NIKE COVID-19 initiative, donates TPU polymers for PPE face shields and respirator lenses
Lubrizol, together with NIKE, Inc., is helping protect frontline medical workers fighting against COVID-19. To support Nike’s efforts to develop and donate full-face shields and powered, air-purifying respirator (PAPR) lenses to hospitals across several U.S. cities, Lubrizol donated ESTANE® thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) polymers, an important element in both pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Nike’s version of the full-face shield transforms elements of the brand’s footwear and apparel, including TPU. Lubrizol’s innovation team quickly evaluated materials, provided insights to optimize performance and re-orchestrated its production and supply chain to produce and donate the necessary material to Nike as part of this effort.
In addition to the full-face shields, the ESTANE TPU donation will be used in lenses for powered, air-purifying respirator (PAPR) helmets, used in situations where medical professionals face the greatest airborne pathogen exposure as they provide critical care to infected patients.
Ahlstrom-Munksjö materials validated by French Government for facemask production
In accordance to the newly implemented guidelines issued by the French National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) aimed at providing policies that help expand the availability of face masks for non-sanitary use, Ahlstrom-Munksjö has received necessary certification for the use of its Reliance SMS 200, Reliance SMS 300, Reliance® Dextex 200 and Reliance Dextex 300 materials for facemask production. Typically used for the manufacturing of sterilization wraps for surgical instruments, these materials have been deemed to meet the requirements of a category 1 mask type for use by professionals in contact with the public. In addition, Reliance SMS 200 and Reliance SMS 300 have been shown to be compatible to the performance criteria of surgical masks.
The validation was acknowledged following a series of tests conducted by the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), the French Government Defense procurement and technology agency. Testing confirmed the performance compatibility of the Reliance SMS material with surgical facemask types thanks to its breathability and bacterial filtration efficiency, whereas Reliance Dextex proved to ensure permeability to air and to perform in protection barrier efficiency at a level compatible to the category 1 face masks currently in use.
Reliance SMS 200, Reliance SMS 300, Reliance Dextex 200 and Reliance Dextex 300 manufactured at the Medical business plants in Windsor Locks, United States and Mundra, India and converted at the site in Pont Audemer, France, have already been supplied to hospitals across France, to the French Government and distributors.
RKW joins coalition of manufacturers to produce FFP-2 protective facemasks
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, RKW Group, Sporlastic, the Gherzi Consulting Group and others have formed the “FIGHT” consortium to jointly produce FFP-2 type protective masks.
RKW is participating in the production of FFP-2 protective masks by producing a laminate made of spunbonded nonwoven fabric at its Gronau, Germany facility. Production has been running at full speed for a few days now, with the aim of achieving a weekly capacity of around 750,000 masks.
The RKW spunbonded nonwoven is processed in Gronau into a laminate with meltblown material that meets the high demands on the filter material for FFP-2 masks. It must capture at least 94 percent of the particles in the air down to a size of 0.6 micrometers. The COVID-19 coronavirus is bound in water droplets averaging around 1 micrometer in size.
The first production batch will be delivered to the first client, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Integration of Germany’s federal state of Baden-Württemberg. Further public sector clients are currently in negotiation with the consortium.
NC State’s Nonwovens Institute calls for collaborators in making facemask materials and masks for COVID-19 response
The Nonwovens Institute (NWI) at North Carolina State University is responding to the shortage in capacity for making filtration media and converting it to make facemasks by opening up its meltblown and spunbond nonwoven-making facilities. NWI is utilizing its expertise to produce specially designed fabrics that can be delivered to manufacturers in the U.S. to assemble facemasks, and it is also investing in new converting equipment to locally assemble ready-to-use facemasks for healthcare workers, as well as for public use.
NWI is also seeking collaborators, partners, suppliers, and customers to engage in the response by contributing money, equipment and materials.
- Cash Donation (online, check, wire transfer)
- Equipment & Materials Donation
- Investment support to scale-up nonwoven production, invest in new converting equipment, and increase capacity.
- Equipment for production and maintenance, e.g., Reicofil Spare Parts for Production, nonwoven belts, SB and MB resins (polypropylene & PLA), forklifts, and product handling and storage equipment.
- Accelerate time to full production of affordable facemasks that make a difference.
- Ensures production reliability and resin supply for production.
Questions about this initiative can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about facemask technology types and applications, Behnam Pourdeyhimi, Ph.D. NWI Executive Director has posted a detailed description here.
Britain’s textile industry boosted by coronavirus pandemic
The coronavirus outbreak is a human tragedy and an economic disaster, but some businesses could in the long term do quite well out of it. Take Britain’s textile industry. Throughout the 1990s, British textile companies lost a lot of business to China as clothing retailers and brands in the United Kingdom turned en masse to the Far East for cheaper production.
But now the disruption in trade with China has made some of those retailers reconsider the wisdom of having long supply chains, and they’ve been turning back to British manufacturers.
Read the full story: https://www.marketplace.org/2020/04/13/covid-19-britain-textile-industry/
Bally Ribbon Mills providing structural tapes and elastics for COVID-19 response
Bally Ribbon Mills (BRM) is manufacturing narrow-woven structural tapes and elastics for use in a range of medical items required for the current COVID-19 emergency. The tapes and elastics are used by manufacturers of facemasks, face shields, gowns, other personal protective equipment (PPE), and medical patient soft goods, as well as patient slings, wheelchair harnesses, braces, and respiratory equipment.
BRM offers ¼- to ½-inch woven tapes and webbing in natural polyester and elastic. Latex-free options are available, as well as material with 100 percent elastic stretch. Also available are ¼-inch to ¾-inch nylon grosgrain binding tapes used in medical tie applications and special designs where Velcro is utilized for closure.
Eastman donates materials to Purdue University to support production of PPE for COVID-19 response
As part of the world’s collective effort to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, Eastman is donating materials to produce protective lenses and face shields for medical personnel.
Eastman donated 600 square feet of material to Purdue University. More than 40 volunteer faculty and staff members are using the school’s laser cutting system to produce up to 3,000 lenses and 4,000 face shields. The protective equipment will be distributed to hospitals across Indiana.
“I’m proud of the speed at which the Eastman team was able to get material to the teams at Purdue,” said Brendan Boyd, Vice President, Specialty Plastics & Fibers Technology said. “The need for more protective equipment is urgent. We value these innovative partnerships that can meet a significant community need quickly and effectively.”
Purdue’s Bechtel Innovation Design Center is using a pilot-scale manufacturing facility to make protective glasses and face shields. “Under guidance from medical professionals, we have redesigned and manufactured complex fittings for ventilators and are actively producing laser cut, waterjet cut, and 3D-printed parts for face shields and safety glasses,” said David McMillan, assistant director of the center.
DuPont, HHS, FedEx partner to expedite shipping of Tyvek garments to aid COVID-19 response in US
DuPont has partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and FedEx to provide expedited shipping of Tyvek garments critical to COVID-19 relief efforts.
The operation aims to accelerate delivery of Tyvek PPE, moving them via air instead of ocean. FedEx Express will transport Tyvek roll goods from the Tyvek manufacturing plant in Richmond, VA to our garment manufacturer in Vietnam. They will then return to the U.S. with finished Tyvek garments. This will enable additional Tyvek garments to be available even faster to support the COVID-19 relief efforts in the U.S.
Follow DuPont’s coronavirus response at: https://www.dupont.com/news/dupont-response-novel-coronavirus-prevention-and-control.html?src=HP.html
Bolger & O’Hearn reports spike in demand for durable water repellents amid COVID-19 response
Bolger & O’Hearn, known for developing innovative specialty chemicals for the global textile industry, is seeing brisk demand for the company’s high-powered durable water repellents (DWRs) in connection with COVID-19 and the growing call for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other medical textiles.
This includes DWR’s used in the production of medical masks, gowns, bed coverings, hospital room drapes, etc.
“In particular, we are seeing a high demand for Stormproof/Breathable OmniBloq™, a DWR we developed for high-end performance apparel brands that surpasses industry standards for water and soil repellence,” said Kelly Murphy, co-president of Bolger & O’Hearn.
Bolger & O’Hearn has been designated an Essential Service by the state of Massachusetts, the US department of Defense and Homeland Security. Their offices, R&D labs and manufacturing operations are remaining open as the company provides brands and textile manufacturers with the chemistries they need to make PPE and other textile end products essential to fighting COVID-19.
Webinar Series: Nonwoven market, products and supply in the world of COVID-19
INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, will present the first in a three-part webinar series focused on the role nonwoven materials are playing in the COVID-19 response, Tuesday, April 14, 2020, 2:00 pm–2:50 pm EST.
Part I in the series, titled “Structure, Effectiveness and Differentiation of COVID-19 Wipes & Masks,” will be presented by Chris Plotz, Director of Education & Technical Affairs, for INDA. The webinar will cover physical and chemical characteristics of disinfecting nonwoven hand wipes, hard surface wipes, and facemask technology for COVID-19 response in work, home, and personal care applications. Highlighted topics will include:
- Face mask: Differentiation and filtration efficacies
- Wipes: Dry and wet
- Chemistries: Types and effectiveness for hand, skin, and hard surface sanitizers
- Nonwovens best protection practices and new developments
Plotz is a business leader with 19 years of technical nonwovens related experience in global product management and product development. At INDA, Plotz directs, oversees, and expands education and training programs for all levels of industry members, manages the international harmonized standards activities, Product Stewardship activities, Technical Advisory Board, and key services areas that INDA operates for its members.
Subsequent webinars in the series include:
- “Absorbent Hygiene Marketplace During COVID-19: Disruption, Risks, & Opportunities,” Svetlana Uduslivaia, Head of Research, Euromonitor International
- “Increasing Nonwovens Materials to Respond to COVID-19 Crisis,” Brad Kalil, Director of Market Intelligence and Economic Insights, INDA
Register for the webinar series at: https://imisw.inda.org/store/SearchResults.aspx?searchterm=webinar&searchoption=ALL
* INDA owns International Filtration News.
European Man-Made Fibres Association publishes position paper on critical role man-made fibers are playing in coronavirus response
CIRFS, the European Man-made Fibres (MMF) Association, published a position paper calling on the European authorities to recognize the MMF industry as a supplier of
critical goods in the battle against both the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the Covid-19 lung disease.
Frédéric van Houte, Director General of CIRFS says: “The world is being confronted with an unprecedented crisis. CIRFS is shocked by the dramatic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our
industry has taken all safety measures needed in this crisis. The main priority should now be a wide access to all necessary protective equipment. MMF are indispensable in the production of masks and other protective equipment. CIRFS therefore calls on the European Commission to recognize the MMF sector is an essential supplier in the production of health and hygiene-related products to fight COVID-19 and to deploy all possible measures possible to support it. The European MMF industry is committed to continuing to invest and to create jobs in Europe.”
Read the paper at: https://www.cirfs.org/file_access/application/files/2715/8624/6516/2020_04_06_-_CIRFS_PRESS_RELEASE.pdf
NCTO highlights what U.S. textile industry organizations are doing to aid the COVID-19 response
The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), an association that represents U.S. textiles from fiber through finished products, issued a statement from textile executives leading the nation’s unified effort to produce critical personal protective equipment (PPE) to help hospitals and healthcare workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
In factories across the country, textile companies are retooling production virtually overnight to produce PPE products ranging from hospital gowns, face masks and shoe covers to scrubs. The industry is playing a critical role in the nation’s manufacturing strategy and solution to help contribute to the high demand for these products.
“Coordinating with local hospitals, healthcare organizations, the entire U.S. production chain and federal agencies, the textile industry has been at the forefront of the incredible manufacturing effort, contributing to the country’s rapid response to the rising needs of frontline workers,” said NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas. “This industry has taken the lead in this effort, utilizing American manufacturing facilities and workers, despite facing many challenges in this environment. Our industry will continue to do all they can to serve the American people, frontline hospital workers and patients at this time.”
Read the full story: http://www.ncto.org/textile-industry-unites-to-play-critical-role-for-the-nations-production-of-ppe-products/
Sinopec Yizheng Chemical Fibre Co. launches first of 12 planned meltblown lines
Sinopec Yizheng Chemical Fibre Co (YCFC) successfully launched its first melt-blown non-woven production line on March 29 in Yizheng, Jiangsu province, which was manufactured by Shaoyang Textile Machinery Co, affiliated to Sinomach’s subsidiary China Hi-Tech Group Corporation (CHTC). Shaoyang Textile Machinery succeeded in reducing the lead time to a month and delivered the production line 13 days earlier than the date required by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC).
As the filter layer of a surgical mask, the meltblown nonwoven material is an essential raw component in mask production. Mask production lines are expanding rapidly across the country as an urgent part of pandemic prevention and control, and a large number of manufacturers are facing a shortage of raw materials.
Shaoyang Textile Machinery will supply 12 meltblown nonwoven production lines in total to YCFC. When all 12 lines are operational, YCFC will have a daily output of 12 tons of N95 melt-blown non-woven or 18 tons of surgical mask materials, and be able to increase production of disposable surgical masks by 18 million pieces a day.
P&G CEO issues open letter, outlining company’s plans for COVID-19 response
In an open letter, Procter & Gamble president & CEO David Taylor outlined the company’s commitment to supporting the COVID-19 response worldwide. In the letter, Taylor said, “We’re stepping up to provide much needed product donations and financial support. Our contributions of product and in-kind support now exceed $15 million and will continue to increase as we work with communities around the world to understand how we can best serve them.”
Many P&G products are being employed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, particularly those that are used daily for cleaning and sanitizing homes, businesses and places like healthcare and assisted-living facilities. Other P&G products are critical for helping consumers maintain proper hygiene, personal health and healthy home environments.
Taylor said, “Millions of P&G products are being donated from 30 brands in more than 20 countries, with more on the way. These donations ensure that families who do not have basic access to the everyday essentials many of us take for granted, can have the cleaning, health and hygiene benefits P&G brands can provide.
“Our contributions are broad-based with cash support to ensure disaster relief organizations can meet immediate needs, including hygiene education and medical equipment and supplies.”
Taylor said P&G has installed new lines to start production of hand sanitizer in five manufacturing sites around the world, using it to ensure the company can continue operating safely and sharing it with hospitals, health authorities and relief organizations. The company also plans to expand manufacturing capacity further in additional facilities in the coming weeks and will have a capacity of at least 45,000 liters per week when fully operational.
Work is also under way to produce critically needed face masks at P&G manufacturing sites around the world. “We’re up and running already in China. We have teams working to install capacity in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, and will quickly begin production in the coming weeks,” said Taylor. He said this is important for several reasons:
- It will increase the supply of masks for hospitals, first responders and other organizations by reducing market demand for production and industrial use;
- It helps us create a safe working environment for P&G people;
- Long term, it will allow us to directly help many communities across the globe where there is unprecedented need for protective supplies.
Read the full letter at: us.pg.com/covid19/
ANDRITZ introduces high-speed face mask converting line
In the first configuration, this new converting line will be able to produce masks for surgical/medical applications; other mask types – like N95/FFP2 – are currently being evaluated.
The new ANDRITZ D-Tech Face Mask line produces and laminates three or more layers of fabrics (spunbond, meltblown, thermo-bonded nonwovens and others). It comprises unwinding and guiding units for nonwoven webs, cutting and positioning devices for the metal nose bar, an edge welding and cutting unit, a 90 degree rotation process, as well as positioning and welding of the ear loop elastics.
The line has a speed of up to 110 m/min and is able to produce up to 750,000 face masks per day, according to ANDRITZ. There are also different packaging options available: products can be packed in bags by an automatic flow wrapping machine or in cardboard boxes by an automatic cartoner.
India exempts customs duty, cess on ventilators, surgical masks, PPE & Covid-19 test kits
“In the context of Covid-19 situation, considering the immediate requirement of ventilators and other items, the Central Government has granted exemption from Basic Customs Duty and Health cess, on the import of these goods, with immediate effect,” the government said in a statement late Thursday evening.
Read the full story at: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/govt-exempts-customs-duty-cess-on-ventilators-surgical-masks-ppe-covid-19-test-kits/articleshow/75072273.cms
Web Industries subsidiary, Omega Systèmes, shipping 900K French Directorate-approved facemasks
Omega Systèmes, a Web Industries company, is shipping 900,000 personal facemasks approved by the French General Directorate of Armament to the Ministère des Armées for distribution to food manufacturers, supermarkets and nursing homes conducting business in France.
Obtaining the French General Directorate of Armament approval for mask production called for Omega to pass a series of tests carried out in accordance with stringent Armament specifications, including those for wearer protection.
The announcement comes at a time when demand for the facemasks is high throughout France. Prime Minister Édouard Philippe has extended COVID-19 containment measures until April 15th, as the number of infections in France exceeds 81,000 with more than 10,800 deaths in hospitals. The masks are being supplied by the Ministèred Armées to businesses whose personnel are at a high risk of contamination, such as those working in the food sector and facilities housing the elderly. These single-use masks can be worn for up to four hours before being changed and offer a 96% protection rate.
Ahlstrom-Munksjö ramps up medical fabrics production to provide up to 30 million face masks per month
Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ahlstrom-Munksjö has increased capacity across its entire protective medical fabrics product portfolio. The exponential spread of the COVID-19 virus around the world has caused an exceptional situation, creating strong demand for healthcare goods in general, and specifically for protective medical products that are made from the company’s fabrics. Ahlstrom-Munksjö is also expanding manufacturing of fabrics production lines normally used for producing other fiber-based materials.
In the beginning of March, the company expanded the production of face mask materials to a fine fiber line normally used for industrial filtration materials at the Turin plant, Italy. The technology is unique, generating good protection and breathability for medical use, and approved as a surgical mask. The advantage of this technology compared to the commonly available electrostatically charged material is its durability. Protection efficiency of electrostatically charged materials is lost overtime when humidity gets in contact with the filter media, whereas protection efficiency of a mechanical filter media remains intact over time. First orders were received in the middle of March, and Ahlstrom-Munksjö is now targeting to ramp up fabrics production for more than 20 million face masks per month.
In April, Ahlstrom-Munksjö is expanding the production of face mask materials to a line normally used for industrial filtration materials at the Tampere plant in Finland. Currently the material is well suited for lighter fabric face masks in civil activities. Droplets test shows that the media has efficiency above 90% at 3 microns and above 85% at 1 micron, which is close to a surgical face mask requirement. Development continues to meet the requirements of material for surgical masks for medical use. Considering the ongoing production, the Tampere plant can deliver fabrics for around 10 million face masks per month on a short notice.
Gerber forms task force to help companies convert manufacturing to PPE
To support the COVID-19 response, Gerber Technologies has created the Gerber PPE Task Force to support its customers as they need to increase their production and/or transition to manufacturing personal protective equipment (PPE).
By joining, companies receive access to a number of resources and services including:
- Production-ready patterns, cut files, markers, tech packs and more.
- Help with the setup of cutter parameters specific to the selected fabrics.
- Training, software, equipment and service technicians to ramp up production.
- Support for changing over current production lines to the production of PPE.
- Contact information for fellow suppliers and manufacturers through our PPE Manufacturing Matchmaking Program.
- Introducing existing PPE manufacturers to those converting to PPE production.
- Production-ready files and recommended materials for applications related to labels, placards and signage.
For more information about this program, visit gerbertechnology.com/covid19.
Ramina running meltblown pilot line 24/7 to manufacture medical face mask material
Reifenhäuser calls for creation of industrial supply chains for face masks and medical protective clothing in Europe
Reifenhäuser Reicofil recently opened its R&D facility to the manufacture of nonwoven fabrics for face masks and medical protective apparel to support the COVID-19 response. However, the company says the utilization of this material is under-performing, with only small-scale, manual conversion of the material into face masks for end use.
“Within the last two weeks, many initiatives have been founded that sew masks by hand. Thus, at least small production capacities have been established in Germany within a very short time, which now want to be supplied,” said Bernd Kunze, Ph.D., managing director of Reifenhäuser Reicofil. “From the many inquiries we have very consciously selected those initiatives that work efficiently and deliver masks quickly and reliably first to where they are most urgently needed.”
For Reifenhäuser, however, manually operating converters remains only a partial success, as the quantities produced in this way are only a small amount of the overall demand for medical protective clothing. Likewise, the company notes that if the general population is to be supplied with masks, the demand would rise into the billions. To actually solve the problem, the company said Germany and Europe need to establish their own industrial production sites with closed European supply chains and decisive political action. The aim must be to supply Europe with protective material independently and competitively, both now and in the long term.
“We need a strategic production reserve for medical protective clothing in Europe,” said Bernd Reifenhäuser, CEO of the Reifenhäuser Group. “We have to quickly build up the machine capacity for the industrial production of masks in high volumes, but at the same time, the corresponding capacities for the production of the necessary high-quality nonwovens in Europe must be created.”
Cummins, DuPont working on alternative material for N95 respirator masks
As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the globe, Cummins Inc. and DuPont are helping address the nation’s shortage of N95 respirator masks. Cummins’ NanoNet® and NanoForce® Media technology, which uses DuPont’s Hybrid Membrane Technology (HMT), can typically be found in air, fuel and lube filtration products used in heavy-duty diesel engines to prevent long-term engine wear, but also can be used in the N95 respirator masks worn by healthcare professionals to filter harmful airborne particles that can spread COVID-19.
The need for N95 masks has skyrocketed in recent weeks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the world’s leading mask manufacturers are in need of the critical materials to assemble the mask and are struggling to meet demand.
“Cummins is re-evaluating our supply base and manufacturing capabilities to identify how we can support our healthcare professionals who rely on critical personal protective equipment to do their jobs,” said Amy Davis, Vice President of Cummins Filtration. “Our NanoNet® Media can fill a key supply void and help address the mask shortage facing the United States and other countries around the world.”
The first mask prototypes using Cummins’ donated media were assembled by University of Minnesota teams in March as part of an initiative to provide masks to M Health Fairview and other Minneapolis-based healthcare systems. As the COVID-19 outbreak escalated, the University of Minnesota realized their supply of N95 masks to protect healthcare workers would potentially run out in a matter of weeks. To address this challenge, a team of designers, engineers, chemists, surgeons, anesthesiologist and apparel and clothing experts from the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Engineering in Medicine; Medical School; College of Design; College of Science and Engineering; and Center for Filtration Research Consortium (CFR) came together to address this projected shortage of critical personal protective equipment.
“The first thing we recognized from our experts in the Center for Filtration Research, who work directly with Cummins, is that not all filtration materials are created equal and that the Cummins material is an excellent alternative,” said Jakub Tolar, Campus Health Officer and Medical School Dean at the University of Minnesota. “We are tremendously grateful for the generous donation from Cummins of their filtration materials toward our mask effort. Since the arrival of the filtration media, we have been able to make rapid progress, and we now believe we have several viable mask options, including both a disposable and re-usable option. These designs show real promise in keeping our healthcare workers safe should standard medical supplies of N95 masks no longer be available,” continued Tolar.
DuPont’s Hybrid Membrane Technology goes beyond the limits of traditional semi-porous or nonwoven membranes for air and liquid filtration. Made using a proprietary spinning process, the hybrid technology materials are comprised of continuous sub-micron fibers. The end result is a “membrane-like” sheet structure that balances breathability and high filtration efficiency of particulates.
While products featuring Cummins’ media will need to be vetted and approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the company is preparing to do its part to help relieve the burden facing the healthcare industry. “We’re working as quickly as possible with healthcare regulators and other partners to help certify products with our materials, and prepare our manufacturing facilities to meet demand,” said Davis.
Mask manufacturers interested in learning more about Cummins’ media technology can visit cumminsfiltration.com/respiratormedia.
Curt G. Joa manufactures 80,000 headstraps for medical faceshields needed for COVID-19 response
Wisconsin-based manufacturer Curt G. Joa received a call from a vendor around 1 p.m. asking the same question many manufacturers across the country have been asked:
“Can you make protective equipment for health care workers?”
After that call, a team of about eight design engineers and employees immediately started designing different options for producing head straps for face shields. Within two days, a design was chosen and almost 80,000 head straps were made.
Alchemie launches new coating technology to support COVID-19 response
Alchemie Technology accelerated the launch of its Novara precision coating technology for technical textiles in support of global efforts to combat COVID-19. Alchemie is actively partnering with manufacturers worldwide to build production lines to address acute personal protective equipment needs and medical textile shortages.
Alchemie’s Novara technology delivers high-precision, 2D-patterned one or two-sided functional coatings to technical textiles. Novara combines the throughput of conventional coating technologies with the precision of digital to unlock new product design opportunities and radically reduce the cost of technical textiles. The technology enables functional coatings to be applied with precision, all controlled with real-time digital data.
According to Alchemie, the benefits of Novara include:
- Precise 2D digital placement of coatings, including one or two-sided application using different materials
- Production with reduced material consumption: only delivering coating where it’s needed
- Reduced inventory and digital productivity benefits, including rapid changeovers in less than five minutes and economic short runs
ISAIC partners with area organizations to produce millions of medical- & surgical-grade masks in Michigan
The Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center (ISAIC) is working with the City of Detroit, the Michigan Economic Development Corp., Carhartt, Rock Family of Companies to mobilize local apparel manufacturers to produce standardized, centralized PPE and automate mass production of pleated surgical masks. The initiative is expected to produce millions of pleated medical grade masks and thousands of sewn surgical masks and isolation gowns.
Under this regional initiative, the organizations are making mask and gown kits with standardized product specifications, created in consultation with area hospitals, to be dispersed to local manufacturing partners for production. ISAIC will administer orders, control inventory and handle distribution to hospitals and other medical facilities.
If you are a hospital or medical facility in need of PPE, click here.
If you are a local sewing specialist or manufacturer and want to get invovled, click here.
Berry contracts with Reifenhäuser Reicofil for new meltblown line in France to produce respirator materials
Reifenhäuser Reicofil and Berry Global Group have signed a contract for a meltblown line to produce filter material for FFP2 (N95) and FFP3 (N99) respirators. The plant is scheduled to be delivered in June. In order to support the fight against the coronavirus, Reifenhäuser Reicofil has reduced the delivery time of the line by one third, to 3.5 months.
The 1.6 m wide Reicofil meltblown line is equipped with a technology for electrostatic charging for filter materials, a key component of face mask filtration. The plant will bring an additional annual capacity of 550 tonnes of N95 material and 365 tonnes of N99 material, respectively. serving the EMEA market.
The plant will be installed in France.
“We are pleased that the Berry Group, the world’s largest producer of nonwovens, is investing in new capacities for urgently needed, high-quality filter material,” said Bernd Kunze, Ph.D., CEO of Reifenhäuser Reicofil. “The demand for these materials is currently enormous and will, in our opinion, remain so in the future. We will provide all producers, who want to get involved in the fight against COVID-19, with the best possible support for rapid project realization.”
NC State’s Nonwovens Institute to employ novel material for production of masks and mask filters
NC State’s Nonwovens Institute (NWI) is using its two research and training pilot production lines to produce face mask materials that will be used to protect medical workers supporting the COVID-19 response.
N95 respirators and surgical masks are generally a sandwich of one or two common nonwoven layers – so-called spunbond layers that provide mask shape and protect the inner filtration layer – combined with a layer of nonwoven meltblown material that serves as the filtration layer and captures microscopic unwanted particles like viruses and bacteria.
But because of the current critical need for masks caused by COVID-19, the NWI team created a new spunbond material that can serve as an effective filter without the need for a meltblown filtration layer. The unique fabric is composed of two different polymer materials that are combined to make a single fiber with significant strength and bulk – and that shows effectiveness in filtration similar to current materials used.
“Because of the COVID-19 crisis, we took the spunbond technology and created a new generation of unique filters that have excellent filtering capability and can potentially be reused after cleaning with peroxide, or potentially alcohol solution,” said Behnam Pourdeyhimi, executive director of NWI, Wilson College of Textiles associate dean for industry research and extension and William A. Klopman Distinguished Professor. “Because these materials are strong, unlike classical meltblown filters, they can also be cut and sewn by traditional techniques.”
Typically, one meter of spunbond material provides enough material for about 20 to 25 masks when using the current designs, Pourdeyhimi said. One of the NWI’s production lines started producing 2,000 meters of spunbond material per hour, with the potential to create some 20,000 meters of spunbond material in a day. NC State is currently in discussion with industrial partners to make masks with the material.
NWI’s other production line is a meltblowing pilot line that will make the classical meltblown material for N95 masks and surgical masks.
“We created a recipe for the production of classical N95 respirator materials and will ship those materials out for industrial partners to convert these into respirators,” Pourdeyhimi said.
The meltblown material takes a bit more time to produce; Pourdeyhimi estimates that his production line can make about 12,000 meters of material in one work shift.
Thanks to support from across the university, Pourdeyhimi says that NC State has ordered machines that will allow the NWI to make surgical masks in its Centennial Campus facilities. Those machines should arrive in the next month.
“We will set these machines up and take our own materials and convert them into masks and provide them to local communities,” Pourdeyhimi said.
Milliken shifts manufacturing to focus on advance medical PPE
Milliken & Company is manufacturing barrier protection fabrics to be used in gowns and headcovers for healthcare professionals supporting the response to the . Milliken is also researching and developing materials for incorporation into N95-grade masks.
The company says it is leveraging its materials science expertise to manufacture much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for the healthcare industry amid the current COVID-19 global pandemic. Milliken’s new advanced medical fabrics and barriers are currently available and complement Milliken’s breakthrough BioSmart antimicrobial technology used in scrubs, lab coats and hospital privacy curtains, harnessing the power of bleach to kill up to 99.9% of common bacteria on contact.
Milliken is manufacturing barrier protection fabrics to be used in gowns and headcovers for healthcare professionals. Milliken is also researching and developing materials for incorporation into N95-grade masks. These new innovations complement our existing range of products that can be used for temporary shelters in situations where it’s deemed necessary to set up transitory field hospitals.
NCTO calls on U.S. to abandon 90-day tariff deferral on textile imports
The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), an association representing U.S. textiles from fiber through finished products, issued a statement from NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas today in response to the U.S. administration’s plan to institute a 90-day deferral on MFN tariffs, as reported by numerous press outlets.
The reported plan being pushed by the importing and retailing industries would defer certain tariffs, including those on finished apparel products. It is an ill-advised policy that will hurt the U.S. textile industry at the very time it is answering the call of the nation to produce medical supplies to battle the coronavirus pandemic.
NCTO has been at the forefront of the efforts to deploy resources, converting production lines to manufacture urgently needed medical supplies like face masks and their textile components, to address the critical need for personal protective equipment and other medical and sanitation supplies in the fight against the coronavirus.
These unnecessary tariff concessions would benefit importers and retailers at the direct expense of manufacturers on the front lines of the COVID-19 response and send a demoralizing message.
Tariff deferrals would severely exacerbate ramifications for the U.S. economy, manufacturers and workers and open the floodgates for imports.
If the U.S. government makes tariff concessions during this crisis, it will be inviting a virtual tsunami of imports further devastating domestic manufacturing as it attempts to regain its footing.
We urge the administration to abandon any moves to defer tariffs on finished products. It would only serve to allow importers to exploit the current crisis, while dealing a severe blow to U.S. manufacturing and its workers.
How the coronavirus travels through the air
How the coronavirus travels through the air has become one of the most divisive debates in this pandemic.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, many people are now overthinking things they never used to think about at all. Can you go outside? What if you’re walking downwind of another person? What if you’re stuck waiting at a crosswalk and someone is there? What if you’re going for a run, and another runner is heading toward you, and the sidewalk is narrow? Suddenly, daily mundanities seem to demand strategy.
Read the full story: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/04/coronavirus-pandemic-airborne-go-outside-masks/609235/
Follow the Atlantic’s COVID-19 coverage: https://www.theatlantic.com/category/what-you-need-know-coronavirus/
Oerlikon to supply 2-beam meltblown system to Asian manufacturer; opens its testing lab for production of face mask materials
A leading Asian large-scale manufacturer of manmade fibers and polymers has invested in a new Oerlikon Nonwoven meltblown system. The recently signed contract includes a 2-beam system for manufacturing filtration nonwovens – predominantly for medical products such as face masks – with a nominal capacity of up to 1,200 tons of nonwovens a year. The commercial production launch has been scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2020.
The 2-beam system has an operating width of 1.6 meters and is equipped with the new patented Oerlikon Nonwoven electro-charging unit. Electro-charging the filter nonwovens allows the manufacture of sophisticated EPA- and HEPA-class filter media as well as media that comply with the requirements of N95-, FFP2- and FFP3-class respiratory masks.
The demand for filtration nonwovens for medical applications has risen tremendously across the globe since the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic, presenting all manufacturers with huge challenges. “We are currently receiving inquiries from all over the world for our system concepts,” said Ingo Mählmann, Ph.D., vice president of sales & marketing for Oerlikon Nonwoven. “To improve the supply situation, we have changed our prioritization in favor of considerably shorter delivery times for meltblown systems, so that customers can now be supplied even faster and also with very short lead times.”
A meltblown system will be commissioning at the site of a leading Western European nonwovens producers as early as the second quarter of 2020. This system will be deployed exclusively in the manufacture of nonwovens for respiratory masks.
Due to the current state of emergency with regards to the local supply of face masks, Oerlikon Nonwoven is currently using its own laboratory system to produce electrostatically charged filter media, which are being sent to local small businesses and companies for the manufacture of face masks. “We are thrilled to be making a contribution towards fighting the pandemic, particularly in the local vicinity of our production site in Neumünster”, adds Rainer Straub, head of Oerlikon Nonwoven.
Berry expedites roll out of meltblown capacity in EMEIA market
Berry Global Group, Inc. has advanced its investment in an additional specialty meltblown asset to produce high-efficiency filtration media serving the EMEIA markets. Current projections are for commercial production to start in June 2020.
This investment is targeted to meet increased demand and customer growth and will be focused on premium applications, such as FFP2 (N95) and FFP3 (N99) for industrial face mask and cabin air filtration markets. The new line will be equipped with Berry’s proprietary charging technology to deliver optimal filtration efficiency and pressure drop at lower basis weights.
As the largest manufacturer of nonwoven fabrics and one of the world’s leading plastic packaging suppliers, Berry makes materials for face masks and protective healthcare apparel to packaging for food preservation and disinfecting products, many of which have seen a demand surge in the fight against COVID-19.
“As a market leader in that space, we had been planning to add more capacity shortly after our latest investment in Asia came on line. The opportunity to support the fight against COVID-19 accelerated our decision,” said Cedric Ballay executive vice president and general manager for Europe in Health, Hygiene, and Specialties for Berry. “Our ability to be agile will benefit our customers and our communities.”
WPT Nonwovens acquires two lines, readies facility to begin production of surgical & N95 masks
WPT Nonwovens (Beaver Dam, KY) announced it will begin production of surgical masks and N-95 respirator masks, responding to requests from state and local officials looking for Kentucky manufacturers willing to assist with the production of supplies needed for the COVID 19 response.
According to Travis Robbins, WPT Nonwovens Vice President and General Manager, the company has moved forward with the purchase of two fully-automated machines, one for producing surgical masks and one for producing N-95 respirators. It has dedicated 5,000 square feet of its Beaver Dam facility to set up these two new production lines. However, the company said the raw materials needed to produce the masks has been challenging with price gouging on raw materials required to make the N-95 respirators.
Through the supply chain relationships developed by WPT Nonwovens, the company was able to source the necessary materials from a reliable and reputable supplier at an affordable cost. Robbins says that he is confident WPT Nonwovens will be able to supply needs at a price well below what the current market can offer, and that the company will be positioned to run 24/7 production to meet volume demands.
WPT Nonwovens expects to produce 100,000 surgical masks per day, and 35,000 N-95 mask per day. It expects the surgical masks will be ready to ship by May 1, and the N-95 masks will be ready by June 1.
FEMA issues call for medical supplies, PPE to support COVID-19 response
- To sell medical supplies or equipment to the federal government, please submit a price quote under the COVID-19 PPE and Medical Supplies Request for Quotation. Full details can be found in the solicitation (Notice ID 70FA2020R00000011).
- This solicitation requires registration with the System for Award Management (SAM) in order to be considered for award, pursuant to applicable regulations and guidelines. Registration information can be found at www.sam.gov. Registration must be “ACTIVE” at the time of award.
- If you have medical supplies or equipment to donate, please provide us details on what you are offering.
- If you are a private company that wants to produce a product related to the COVID response – email email@example.com.
- If you are interested in doing business with FEMA and supporting the response to COVID- 19 with your company’s non-medical goods and/or services, please submit your inquiry to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Procurement Action Innovative Response Team (PAIR) team at DHSIndustryLiaison@hq.dhs.gov.
Milliken ramps up production of anti-microbial fabric
Milliken & Company has increased domestic production of its BioSmart anti-microbial fabric.
In light of the current critical need for protective medical garments, the company has prioritized the advanced material in their supply chain to do what it can to better protect healthcare professionals regularly exposed to bacteria and viruses.
“We are committed to protecting our medical community when their health is of vital importance,” said Chad McAllister, president and EVP of the Textile Division of Milliken & Company. “Through scaling up manufacturing, production and distribution channels, we are dedicating the necessary resources to defend those who need it most.”
The patented, bleach-activated technology harnesses the proven power of readily-available chlorine bleach to kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses. Manufactured in the United States, BioSmart fabric is available through Prime™ Medical and is equipped with advanced molecular engineering that binds chlorine to fibers to turn otherwise passive textiles into one more layer of active defense against inadvertent microbial exposure, contamination and infection.
Statistically, 60% of standard medical uniforms are contaminated with potentially infectious bacteria, and 92% of medical curtains are contaminated within one week of laundering. BioSmart fabric is engineered to combat such bacteria, which often causes Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI). When laundered and activated with bleach, BioSmart fabrics retain chlorine, which can kill up to 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, and that chlorine shield is durable through a minimum of 75 industrial wash cycles, according to Milliken.
Considering alternatives to minimize the impact of the face mask shortage
An editorial published March 20 in JAMA requested creative ideas on how to reuse the N95 face masks, as well as how to make alternatives to commercial masks. The innovation on display convinced surgeon Ed Livingston, a coauthor of the editorial and an editor at JAMA, that “this is the biomedical engineering community’s Apollo 13 moment.”
In this fast-moving emergency, it’s unclear which homespun efforts will help the most. The following article considers how to best conserve the PPE that we have and how to make more.
Read the full story: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/coronavirus-covid-19-ppe-face-mask-shortages-creative-solutions
How 3M Plans to Make More Than a Billion Masks By End of Year
Andrew Rehder, manager of 3M Co.’s respirator mask factory in Aberdeen, S.D., got the call from headquarters on Tuesday, Jan. 21. He gathered about 20 managers and supervisors into a conference room, where they sat, unworried, less than 6 feet apart. Rehder told them that a new virus was spreading rapidly in China and that 3M was expecting demand for protective gear to jump.
The Aberdeen plant had already ramped up production of respirator masks in response to demand from first responders battling wildfires in Australia and contending with a volcano in the Philippines. Now, Rehder told his charges, Aberdeen would shift to “surge capacity.” Idle machinery installed for precisely this purpose would be activated, and many of the plant’s 650 employees would immediately start working overtime. “We knew it wouldn’t be a two-week blip, it would be longer,” Rehder says. “But I had no idea.”
This is 3M’s moment, one for which the staid, 118-year-old Minnesota manufacturing giant—the maker of Post-its, Scotch tape, touchscreen displays, and scores of other products—has been preparing for almost two decades.
Read the full story: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-03-25/3m-doubled-production-of-n95-face-masks-to-fight-coronavirus
Honeywell increases production of N95 face masks to support COVID-19 response
Honeywell is ramping up production of N95 masks in the United States to support the COVID-19 response. The production boost will come from the Honeywell factory in Smithfield, Rhode Island, which also produces UVEX safety glasses.
The N95 face masks will be delivered to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for use to support health, safety and emergency response workers.
Honeywell expects the new mask production line in Smithfield will create at least 500 jobs. Recruiting, hiring and training manufacturing workers will begin immediately.
Klopman commits to produce 700k face masks per month
Klopman, a European manufacturer of protective fabrics, has committed to produce up to 700,000 protective masks per month, which are sterilizable and reusable up to 50 times, according to the company. Due to its capability in the production of fabrics for the medical and health sectors, the company has been included in Italy’s list of “essential” organizations.
The masks will be made from a double layer of fabric to ensure maximum protection and comfort while in contact with the nose and mouth. A first batch of 10,000 masks will be donated to the health authority of Frosinone and to the hospital “Fabrizio Spaziani,” with a rapid response supply chain in place to serve the needs of public and private operators.
In order to ensure a barrier effect with low particle release, Klopman said its masks will be based on the Vectron 8200 fabric, which is usually used in electronics, cleanrooms and in hospitals due to its characteristics, including a hydro/oil repellent finish to enable domestic and industrial washing at 75°C.
US FDA loosens restrictions on PPE and medical devices to bolster supplies for COVID-19 response
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration took action to increase U.S. supplies to support the U.S. response to COVID-19 by providing instructions to manufacturers importing personal protective equipment and other devices.
One of FDA’s priorities in combating the COVID-19 pandemic is facilitating access to critical personal protective equipment (PPE) and devices. The agency is engaging with importers and others involved in the import trade community during this pandemic to facilitate the entry of needed products, including PPE, into the U.S. These instructions to importers clarify the types of PPE that can be imported without engaging with FDA. They also include information about the type of information importers can submit to facilitate their entries. The FDA has adjusted import screening to further expedite imports of legitimate products and are continually monitoring import systems to prevent and mitigate any potential issues.
For more details on the FDA guidance on masks and respirators, see https://www.fda.gov/media/136449/download. Full guidance on medical gowns is still being drafted.
The FDA also established a special email inbox, COVID19FDAIMPORTINQUIRIES@fda.hhs.gov, for industry representatives to quickly communicate with the agency and address questions or concerns.
EURATEX calls for clarity on facemask types and appropriate uses
As the impact of the corona crisis is growing, EURATEX, the European Textile and Apparel Confederation, is calling for a stronger coordination and cooperation among the EU and its member states, and clear communication on the required safety measures.
Specifically, the global COVID-19 emergency has created an unprecedent global demand for protective masks to be used by healthcare, law enforcement, population and key business value chains. According to its modelling, the WHO estimates that each month there will be a request for 89 million medical masks. In the most affected regions, as Lombardy in Italy, the monthly demand for certified masks – only for healthcare workers – exceed 10 million.
EURATEX is identifying options to increase the availability of protective masks in the EU, both by enhancing the existing capacity and creating new manufacturing capacity, including support to textile value-chain companies reconverting their production
Under normal circumstances two main type of face protecting masks are put on the market:
- PPE masks protect persons from outside agents. Products must be certified by laboratories as per requirements of the PPE Regulation (typically harmonised standard EN 149) with level minimum FFP2 or better FFP3.
- Medical masks primarily protect patients from the wearer. Products shall meet requirements of the Medical Device Directive/Regulation (typically standard EN14683) by auto-certification and upon testing
In the present circumstances, masks offering a general protection are used as well. These masks offer different degrees of protection, depending on which materials are used and how they are made. These are usually intended for use by the population and are not meant to be used by healthcare workers. Public authorities should communicate clearly on the difference between these masks, and their level of protection.
Reifenhäuser Reicofil converts its own meltblown test lines to facemask production
The German machinery and plant manufacturer Reifenhäuser Reicofil has temporarily converted two of its test plants to full production in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The lines installed in the company’s nonwovens technology center, which are otherwise exclusively used for research and development as well as customer trials, have been producing meltblown material for the production of urgently needed facemasks.
Until further notice, the meltblown lines will be operated in 4-shift operation 24/7. The daily output is sufficient for up to one million facemasks. Reifenhäuser said trial operations will be almost completely suspended during this period.
The meltblown material from the nonwoven technology center is already sold out for the next five weeks. However, Reifenhäuser continues to look for opportunities to strengthen the local supply during this crisis. The company is in close contact with associations, authorities and other companies. Material for other medical protective clothing could also be produced at short notice, according to Reifenhäuser.
In related news, Reifenhäuser Reicofil is shortening the delivery time for meltblown lines to 3.5 months, with the aim of supporting the production of the crucial middle material layer for face masks. Supplies of face masks have been severely stressed in the face of the COVID-19 response.
Dr. Bernd Kunze, CEO of Reifenhäuser Reicofil, said, “In situations like the current one, we gladly depart from customary procedures. Sticking to standards in a non-standard situation is out of place. It goes without saying that we will do everything in our power to serve the needs quickly and in the accustomed high quality.”
The first contract with the new delivery time has already been concluded. The 1.6 meter wide Reicofil Meltblown line is scheduled to start operation in August 2020. With an annual output of 550 metric tons, the plant will produce H99 filter material for up to 1.8 million face masks a day.
Ford joins 3M, GE in speeding up ventilator, respirator production
Ford Motor Co said it was working with General Electric’s healthcare unit and 3M Co to speed up production of ventilators for patients and respirators for healthcare workers as the coronavirus pandemic escalates.
USTR requests input on lifting ‘Section 301’ duties on Chinese imports of medical-care products
In order to facilitate the U.S. response to COVID-19, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has announced that it is now accepting comments from interested parties on the possibility of removing some of the additional “Section 301” duties that have been applied on various Chinese imported medical-care products.
According to USTR, each submission must specifically identify the particular product of concern and explain precisely how the product relates to the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. For example, the comment may address whether a product is directly used to treat COVID-19 or to limit the outbreak, and/or whether the product is used in the production of needed medical-care products. Comments may be submitted regarding any product covered by the action in the investigation, regardless of whether the product is subject to a pending or denied exclusion request. However, submissions are limited to comments on products subject to the tariff actions and relevant to the medical response to the coronavirus.
For more information, click here.
BYD opens face mask and bottled disinfectant plant
BYD created what it describes as the world’s largest mass-produced face masks plant, which is running at full capacity and is able to produce 5 million masks and 300,000 bottles of disinfectants per day. This allows the firm to help alleviate severe shortages that have affected hospitals and agencies across China in the face of the global COVID-19 outbreak.
On February 8, the newly-built production lines in one of BYD’s industrial parks in Shenzhen started to produce these critical supplies, with hundreds of staff working both day and night shifts along with machines working around the clock.
In late January, BYD began to assist in the production of masks and disinfection gels to tackle the growing COVID-19 outbreak. A special task force was appointed by BYD chairman and president Wang Chuanfu, consisting of leaders from different business divisions and more than 3,000 engineers involved in research and development, design, processing and other roles.
The task force moved in less than two weeks to finish work that normally takes two months, completing both the R&D and manufacturing process of mask production equipment within seven days, with the completion of R&D for medical-grade hand sanitizers in six days. Supplies were shipped to medical staff dealing with the COVID-19 response in China.
EU takes action to procure ventilators, masks and medical equipment
European Parliament is working with member states to ensure that the EU can buy ventilators, masks and other medical equipment to be put at the disposal of hospitals across the EU.
Last week, the Commission set up a scheme to gather medical equipment (through rescEU) so that the necessary supplies to combat COVID-19 can quickly get to member states facing shortages of equipment. This equipment is needed to treat infected patients, protect health care workers and help slow down the spread of the virus.
Parliament is working with member states to swiftly approve 40 out of 50 million EUR for intensive care medical equipment such as ventilators and personal protective equipment, such as reusable masks.
Member states are also joining forces under the Joint Procurement Agreement to buy personal protective equipment, respiratory ventilators and items necessary for coronavirus testing. Working together in this way will give them a stronger position on the world market.
Textile and apparel brands to build supply chain for emergency manufacturing of medical facemasks
American apparel brands and textile companies are responding to a White House request for medical supplies, building a supply chain to fast-track the manufacturing of medical face masks.
Parkdale Inc.– the largest yarn spinner in the U.S. headquartered in North Carolina—helped lead the effort to build the coalition with Hanesbrands, Fruit of the Loom and six other companies to set up a manufacturing supply chain and begin ramping up production of the masks.
The coalition consists of Hanesbrands and Fruit of the Loom, often competitors in the marketplace, who are banding together for the greater good of a nation facing one if its most monumental challenges.
American Giant, Los Angeles Apparel, AST Sportswear, Sanmar, America Knits, Beverly Knits and Riegel Linen are also part of the coalition working tirelessly to respond to a national emergency in the nation’s time of need.
Dr. Peter Navarro, assistant to the President and director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, worked with the coalition and helped expedite the production of these masks. The first face masks have been approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The companies expect to begin production on Monday and will make the first deliveries by mid-week.
If companies are interested in dedicating resources to help the cause, please reach out to the National Council of Textile Organizations at firstname.lastname@example.org
NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers, including artificial and synthetic filament and fiber producers.
Related Story: “NC textile mill ‘heeds call of nation,’ gears up to make 10 million face masks per week”
U.S. Textile and Nonwoven Associations Urge Government to Deem Manufacturing Facilities “Essential”
U.S. textile and nonwoven associations issued a joint statement today urging federal, state and local governments to deem textile and nonwoven manufacturing facilities as “essential” when drafting “Shelter in Place” orders in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The statement was sponsored by the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), INDA (Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry) and Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI).
Our associations recognize the serious challenges our elected officials, health administrators and others are facing when issuing orders to protect communities across the country and we understand the necessity for leaders to enforce a ‘Shelter in Place” order or quarantine orders.
Our members make a broad range of inputs and finished products used in an array of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical nonwoven/textile supplies, including surgical gowns, face masks, antibacterial wipes, lab coats, blood pressure cuffs, cotton swabs and hazmat suits. These items are vital to the government’s effort to ramp up emergency production of these critical supplies.
If workers who produce these goods are not granted an “essential” exemption from “Shelter in Place” and other quarantine orders to go to their manufacturing and distribution facilities, it will cause major disruptions in the availability of these goods. This will create significant hardship to healthcare providers and consumers across the country who depend on steady and stable supplies of these critical items.
We are asking the administration and state and local authorities to provide greater certainty and clarity for our companies and employees and ask for a clear exclusion of our manufacturing operations from “Shelter in Place” orders as the textile and nonwoven products that we make in the U.S. play an essential role in mitigating the shortages of critical supplies. Such a designation will help us avoid disruptions of vital goods and services during this challenging time.
EDANA, European Safety Foundation, EURATEX collaborate to address COVID-19 supply chain issues
While the European Commission is currently looking at mapping the need for masks in the Member States, first estimates show that no less than 250 million medical masks and 30 to 40 million personal protective equipment (PPE) masks will be needed on a monthly basis in the EU for the battle against the COVID pandemic.
In this context EDANA, the European Disposables and Nonwovens Association, is working closer than ever with the European Safety Foundation and EURATEX, the European Apparel and Textile Confederation, to support supply chain efforts for PPE and medical supplies. Actions include:
- Providing the European Commission with the necessary information to accelerate the procurement of medical facemasks and protective masks in the EU
- Matchmaking suppliers of materials needed to create medical facemasks and personal protective masks with existing or prospective manufacturers of these
In its efforts to reach out and share information EDANA is also working together with MedTech, the European trade association for the medical technology industry including diagnostics, medical devices and digital health.
The organization also issued a message to the European Commission, noting that any export ban or restriction would be potentially counter-productive, since in the short and medium term, whether one likes it or not, the supply of medical face masks and personal protective equipment in the EU heavily depends on third countries, in particular from Asia.
COVID-19 Has Caused A Shortage Of Face Masks. But They’re Surprisingly Hard To Make
Both the masks made for medical personnel and for consumer purchase require a once-obscure material called melt-blown fabric. It’s an extremely fine mesh of synthetic polymer fibers that forms the critical inner filtration layer of a mask, allowing the wearer to breath while reducing the inflow of possible infectious particles.
“We’re talking about fibers where one filament has a diameter of less than one micron, so we are in the nano area,” said Markus Müller, the sales director at German company Reicofil, a major provider of melt-blown machine lines.
And there’s now a global shortage of melt-blown fabric due to the increased demand for masks — and the difficulty in producing this material.
As coronavirus surges, filtration questions arise
There is extraordinary confusion about the basic issues that will shape the market for face masks and filters relative to the coronavirus pandemic. This applies to fundamental questions, such as does a medical mask provide protection for the wearer? Will the virus travel through the air and ductwork? How long will the virus remain viable?
There is no consensus relative to supply needs in the future. China has reportedly ramped up medical mask production fivefold to 100 mi
llion per day and N95 masks to 1.2 million per day from just 200,000. So it makes sense that they will have excess supply. Not necessarily. China is very worried about outbreaks in provinces visited by Europeans and other foreigners who the Chinese view as the future risk.
When the unexpected happens, are today’s filtration systems ready for the challenge?
Over the past several months, the world has faced some unexpected/unpredictable filtration challenges, such as the bushfires in the New South Wales region of Australia, which produced air quality that the Australian Environmental Protection Authority dubbed “the worst in the world.” And now, the coronavirus (COVID-19), which has been declared a global pandemic, the scope of which, at the time of this writing, we are still trying to determine. Both of these tragic events call into question how prepared filtration technologies and systems are in addressing emergency scenarios like, for example, wildfire-induced air pollution or viral outbreaks, like what we’re seeing the COVID-19.
To help us understand what the Australia bushfires and the coronavirus outbreak mean from a filtration perspective, we recently interviewed Tom Justice, the president of the National Air Filtration Association. In addition to his involvement with NAFA, Justice has served on a number of ASHRAE standards committees, been involved with ISO air filtration initiatives, and received lifetime achievement awards from NAFA and INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry. Justice also holds several patents related to air filtration.
Sionopec puts meltblown assembly line into operation
Sinopec Corp, China’s leading energy and chemical company, put its first meltblown nonwoven fabric assembly line into operation at its Yanshan factory in Beijing on March 6. The Yanshan factory is a converted 3,600 square meter old warehouse that has found new life as a global production base following the challenges brought by the coronavirus outbreak.
The 14,400-ton capacity Yanshan facility is one of Sinopec’s two meltblown nonwoven fabric assembly bases and is co-managed with China National Machinery Industry Corporation. The base has two nonwoven production lines and three spunbond production lines and can produce up to 4 tons of melt-blown fabric for 1.2 million N95 disposable masks or 6 tons for 6 million disposable masks per day.
The new facility also takes advantage of Sinopec’s integrated upstream supply-chain by sourcing local materials from Yanshan and support from the on-site synthetic resin production line.
Across Asia, countries race to boost face mask supplies
At a face mask factory just outside the South Korean capital of Seoul, workers are churning out 300,000 masks a day – and it’s still not enough.
3M taps regional suppliers to meet soaring demand for masks
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services intends to buy 500 million N95 respirators over the next 18 months for the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), the nation’s supply of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies.
Squabble over mask shortage erupts as coronavirus spreads
At a visit to 3M in Minnesota, Vice President Mike Pence noted the company can currently only produce 4 million FDA-blessed surgical masks per month.
U.S. to Ramp Up Mask Production, But China Is Bottleneck for Raw Materials
Honeywell International Inc is the other major U.S. mask producer, which is aiming to ramp up production.
3M can’t confirm Pence comments about making more masks
Jennifer Ehrlich, a 3M communications manager said in an e-mail late Saturday that any information about government contracts for respirators would have to come from the Office of the Vice President. However, Ehrlich added, “Just to clarify, we are not yet under contract for the volume mentioned today. However, we are preparing to respond to the U.S. administration’s request for a proposal for respirators. 3M continues to maximize production at its manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and around the world for all types of N95 respirators.”
US mulls using sweeping powers to ramp up production of coronavirus protective gear
The Trump administration is considering invoking special powers to rapidly expand domestic manufacturing of protective masks and clothing to combat the coronavirus in the U.S., two officials told Reuters. The biggest producers of face masks in the United States include 3M Corp and Honeywell International Inc.
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said at a congressional hearing on Wednesday that China controls “a lot of the raw materials as well as the manufacturing capacity” related to face masks. Very little of this stuff is apparently made in the (United) States, so if we’re down to domestic capability to produce, it could get tough,” the DHS official told Reuters.
3M ramps up N95 respirator production as demand surges from global coronavirus outbreak
From the streets of Beijing to Milan Fashion Week, people around the world are turning to protective masks and respirators to try and reduce the risk of infection amid the global outbreak of coronavirus.
Demand is so high that it’s increasingly difficult to order respirators on e-commerce platforms like Amazon.