Materials scientists develop simple concept for the production of protective face masks
Many clinics and medical facilities are facing a shortage of respiratory masks these days – the demand during the current corona pandemic has exploded. Procurement is difficult, and in some cases the supply is completely lacking.
Prof. Dr. Dirk Schubert from the chair of Polymer Materials (LSP) at FAU has therefore developed a simple process that enables him and his team at the chair of polymer materials to produce breathing masks from meltblown filter fleece on short notice. The expert in fibres first analysed a commercially available FFP2 mask. In a second step, the meltblowing equipment available at the LSP were adapted to produce comparable filter fleeces within a few days. Step three: Schubert and his scientific staff developed and implemented a simple assembly concept. The particular challenge was to retain the current contact restrictions.
The mask developed at the LSP even offers another advantage over conventional FFP2 masks: The LSP version has no valve for exhalation, so that a wearer cannot contaminate his or her environment with the unfiltered exhaled air. In contrast to the currently popular textile DIY masks, these masks of the LSP are made of finer and water-repellent material, so that droplets, such as those emitted when speaking or sneezing, are retained more efficiently.
According to current estimates, Prof. Schubert and his team can produce up to 600 masks per day for the University Medical Center Erlangen.
Important to know: Due to the highly time-critical circumstances in the current crisis, the mask cannot undergo any of the usual certification processes or an elaborated quality assurance system. In case the situation of supply improves, it is planned to send relief shipments to relevant crisis areas, where otherwise no masks are available. In addition, the optimised concept will then also be provided to other interested institutions in order to tackle the shortage.