Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - 57

PRODUCT ADVANCEMENTS
Esswein says that great strides were made
in the development of garments to protect
workers from contamination since the
anthrax attacks in 2001, further spurred
by the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Technology advancements in the manufacture
of masks and respirators "have been evolving
steadily," according to Nelson.
Most protection devices are made through
a melt-blowing fabrication process, often a
composite with spun-bonded materials, Plotz
explains. He says a "new breed" of nonwoven
materials are much finer on the nano scale
than in the past. "It allows for improvements
in filtration efficiency," he says. "It's easier
to breathe through and you don't have to
use a whole lot of it to get significant gains."
In addition, many of the new generation of
filtering facepiece respirators have electrostatic
properties built into the nonwoven material,
making them more efficient.
Sustainability of single-use products is
a topic of conversation in the nonwovens
industry, including the manufacture of face
masks and respirators. But outbreaks such as
COVID-19 tend to put those discussions on the
back burner. "Before coronavirus, certainly

there was great interest in sustainability,"
Nelson says. "We were starting to see some
serious work about using materials that are
more eco-friendly. At some point, we will
get back to more of a push toward that, as
sustainability continues to be a major theme
for the nonwovens industry."
GLOBAL DEMAND
Whenever an outbreak like coronavirus
occurs, the central question is whether
manufacturers can ramp up production to
meet staggering demand. "There are plenty
of materials available that can sort of work for
what I call a 'nuisance mask,' something that
is not regulated, that doesn't meet any kind of
environmental standard," says Nelson. "It's
harder with a regulated mask, one that meets
some kind of quality threshold, especially
when you need millions of them. It's really
important that the industry continues to
work with reputable companies that adhere
to strict quality requirements."
Information about NIOSH-approved N95
respirators can be found at www.cdc.gov/
niosh/topics/respirators.
Jeff Moravec is a freelance writer based
in Minneapolis, Minn.

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This illustration reveals ultrastructural
morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
Note the spikes that adorn the outer
surface of the virus, which impart the
look of a corona surrounding the virion,
when viewed electron microscopically. A
novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute
Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2
(SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause
of an outbreak of respiratory illness first
detected in Wuhan, China, in 2019. The
illness caused by this virus has been
named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID19). Illustration: Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.

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Fax: 714-893-9339
Or call 1-800-326-1288 ext. 116 Konrad
For more information on classified advertising in IFAI's Specialty Fabrics Review
contact Michelle Cook: 651 225 6957 | MLCook@ifai.com

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www.SpecialtyFabricsReview.com 57

0520RV_p49-57.indd 57

4/18/20 10:59 PM


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Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020

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