FIBERTEX SA teams up with local facemask manufacturers to save lives during the covid-19 pandemic, through the supply of quality filter materials

Fibertex SA has stepped-up production of filter media, to meet high demand for quality components from local facemask and respirator manufacturers. This is in response to the Government’s call for every South African to wear a facemask in public areas, to help curb the spread of the Coronavirus.

Fibertex facemask filter materials, which have been supplied to large-scale manufacturers of facemasks for many years, are locally produced at the Fibertex KZN plant, in line with stringent international quality and health specifications.

Fibertex filter media packs for facemasks and DIY FT3 kits for facemasks

“Fibertex synthetic nonwovens and nanofibre-treated products are certified for use in various functional layers in protective facemasks and respirators. Functions include moulding supports, particulate efficiency layers and barriers against the COVID-19 virus. These high-performance materials also offer protection against bacteria and liquid penetration,” explains Sefton Fripp, Commercial Executive, Fibertex South Africa. “Quality filter media is combined with advanced filtration technologies – including nanofibres – to ensure dependable filtration solutions for a safer environment. By utilising premium, high-efficiency Fibertex nanofibre layers in the production of protective face masks, end-users can expect to reach N95 and FFP2 level of protection.

“A critical advantage of the Fibertex filter layer is this material is mechanically-bonded, using needlepunch technology. This durable fabric is non-absorbent and is free of chemicals that could cause skin-irritation for some wearers.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies in South Africa – including the Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed Hudaco Industries grouup – have transformed production facilities to be able to manufacture personal protection equipment (PPE) urgently needed to help curb the spread of the virus on the African continent. Re-vamped production facilities have also kept workers in full employment.

“The local Fibertex team is proud to work closely with Powermite – part of the Hudaco Industries group – in the development of the new Hudaco Air Mask. These dependable new facemasks have advanced features for air-intake and air-exhaust effectiveness, ease of filter exchanging, skin friendliness and long-term comfort.

“Critical design criteria were that these facemasks should be non-disposable and simple to clean for reuse, alleviating environmental waste issues associated with disposable masks.

“Fibertex filter media play an important role in these new comfortably fitting masks by providing a dependable filtration system that offers a physical barrier against droplets of 5 microns in size, while changeable exhaust filters clean up exiting breath.

“Fibertex Breathetex 140 nonwoven filter fabric – with approval from South African authorities for the production of non-surgical facemasks – is manufactured from a blend of Polyester fibres, with non-absorbent, hypo-allergenic properties. This locally manufactured material is positioned adjacent to the melt-blown and outer spunbond layer and is one of the components used to mould and shape FFP1 and FFP 2 / N95 protective masks.

“What’s important about the Hudaco Air Mask, is that the change-out of the mask’s filtration system is uncomplicated and the filter can be disinfected without any damage or misalignment. Detailed attention has been given to dispelling exhaled carbon dioxide and providing a clear pathway for inhaled air. Two exhalation non-return filtration valves are separately utilised and are independent from the main filter system intake.”

FFP2 Hudaco Air Masks have been designed for safe use in many industries, particularly in difficult environments on mines, in foundries, chemical plants and in woodworking environments, where filtration is needed to keep out fine particles, such as dust.

Fibertex Nonwovens has also developed a versatile component – Adhetex 40A90NP0 – which is designed to improve the filtration efficiency of protective face masks and to also extend their safe storage period. By utilising premium, high-efficiency Fibertex nanofibre layers in the production of facemasks, N95 and FFP2 levels of protection can be achieved.

The main benefit of Fibertex nanofibre layers, being a purely mechanical filtration layer, is guaranteed efficiency of the filtration layer during the lifetime of the mask.

Another important benefit of this advanced technology is durability of the nanofibre layer, which enables extended storage time of masks, making them suitable for use as disaster and epidemic relief safety stocks.

Fibertex Adhetex nano materials are most commonly used in HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters for masks, industrial dust collection, gas turbine air inlet filtration, air-conditioning units, automotive components and filters in domestic vacuum cleaners.

Fibertex depth filtration media – which extend the service-life of the filter – have a gradient structure comprising an initial pre-filter layer, a dust-holding layer and the final nanofibre layer.

Facemasks for the domestic sector

There is also a cry from the domestic sector, for easy access to quality components needed for the manufacture of ‘home-made’ face coverings that provide adequate protection during the COVID-19 pandemic. For this reason, Fibertex has made filter material in packs, available from retail outlets around the country.

This initiative is enhanced by the Fibertex FT3 DIY facemask project, which, in conjunction with businesses, churches, charities and welfare organisations, strives to instill a sense of entrepreneurial spirit in communities. Since its launch earlier this year, this drive has inspired the establishment of many little sewing businesses. It is hoped these enterprises will continue to flourish, even after the Coronavirus crisis has passed.

Fibertex FT3 fabric facemask kits comprise every component required to make over 50 three-ply washable, reusable and durable masks for children and adults. These do-it-yourself facemask kits consist of three layers of chemical-free (no chemical binders) fabric, sufficient elastic and a spool of cotton, complete with two spare filters per mask. These packs are supplied with a step-by-step pattern, that even those who are unfamiliar with a needle and thread are able to follow and those without a sewing machine can complete.

According to Fibertex specialists, the use of facemasks should not be considered a replacement for other recommended precautionary measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 but must be used in conjunction with other preventative measures, including regular hand-washing and social distancing.

Fibertex SA – which continuously invests in technological advancements to meet requirements in diverse industries – is committed to assisting the African continent with the urgent supply of quality materials for medical and non-medical facemasks and continues its collaboration with facemask and respirator manufacturers to support this drive.

Global support from the holding company in Denmark guarantees the edge on product design, impeccable manufacturing standards and cost-efficiency, as well as safety and reliability of every Fibertex material. Apart from the healthcare sector, key areas of business are acoustics, bedding, building, composites, concrete, filtration, flooring, furniture and geotextiles.

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