Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - 24

In response to the COVID pandemic,
Herculite and Strataglass provided its
customers with patterns for manufacturing
and assembling face shields for individuals
and protective screens for environments
that require close personal interaction
between employees and/or customers,
such as grocery store checkouts.
Photos courtesy of Herculite.

ADVANCED TEXTILES:
THE URGENT CALL FOR PPE
The rapid spread of the coronavirus
was accompanied by an urgent call for
personal protective equipment (PPE),
particularly masks. There were plenty
of manufacturers who wanted to join
the effort to provide PPE, but they
had never made these products before.
Cut-and-sew operations, closed as
"nonessential" businesses, were willing
to reopen and use their facilities, workers
and expertise, but they also needed to
get up to speed on government specs,
sourcing materials and patterning to
make a product that would work.
Connie Huffa, principal, Fabdesigns
Inc., Agoura Hills, Calif., explained during
an IPC virtual meeting that there are a lot
of risks associated with manufacturing
medical products, as opposed to fashion.
With four classes of masks, all designed
to perform in specific circumstances, the
specifications for each are different.
However, in an effort to move
quickly, small operations used what
materials they had on hand. With
nonwovens in short supply, wovens
and knits offered "something rather
than nothing" for protection.
Stephanie Rogers, director of product
research and development at Apex Mills,
Inwood, N.Y., told meeting participants,
"The woven world is coming in second,"
but that will "dry up," too. Essentially,
entangled fibers of almost any kind
could be used, in theory, to make fabrics
for masks, including wool and other
natural fibers.
The critical N95 masks (see page 55),
however, that are made of spunbond
nonwoven layers, also have a meltblown
nonwoven layer in the middle, and
therein lies one of the challenges.
Meltblown materials take longer to
manufacture, so even if other nonwovens
were available, the production of N95
masks was stalled.

Masks aren't the only PPE in short
supply. Health-care workers who treat
COVID-19 patients also need goggles, a
face shield, gowns and booties. And other
hospital employees require protection too,
although PPE alternatives can be given to
them, while reserving the most critical PPE,
such as the N95 masks, for the workers
providing direct care.
There's also the question of fabric
treatments. Rogers said medical textiles,
including scrubs, generally need barrier
protection to prevent fluid transfer.
"A DWR [durable water repellent] can
address this," and an antimicrobial can
also be added, but that can weaken the
effectiveness of other treatments.
"If you have to pick between DWR
or antimicrobial, pick the DWR," Huffa
said. Masks not meeting FDA specs could
be used as over-masks to make the N95
last longer.
Rogers cautioned that antimicrobials
don't stop viruses. "It's really the reduction
of particle movement and the prevention
of reaching another person," she said,
which can be accomplished with many
kinds of fibers.
Chris Semonelli, vice president/sales
manager for Erez USA Inc., Newport,
R.I., and chair of IFAI's Advanced Textile
Products division, says that to expedite
the process and get end products where
they need to go, there needs to be "clear
specifications and quantities, and reasonable
delivery time frames. But there also needs
to be some flexibility with technical textile
specifications, "keeping in mind the
finished product's function," he said.
Semonelli says industry participants
have risen to the challenge. "I have never
seen a period where people in our industry
want to help so much," he says.
Paige Mullis, director of concept
development with Glen Raven Inc., Glen
Raven, N.C., adds, "Things we're putting
in place today as reactive, might become
the way we operate day-to-day."

24 REVIEW MAY 2020

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4/18/20 11:06 PM



Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020

Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - Cover1
Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - Cover2
Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - 1
Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - 2
Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - 3
Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - 4
Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - 5
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Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - 7
Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - 8
Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - 9
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Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - 11
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Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - 14
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Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - 17
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Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - 19
Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - 20
Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - 21
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Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - 24
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Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - 26
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Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - Cover3
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