With face masks for healthcare workers in extremely short supply, companies from across the plastics industry, as well as from completely different sectors, have started initiatives to produce these products.
As ultrasonic welding is a preferred technology for the production of respiratory masks made of nonwovens, ultrasonic welding expert Herrmann Ultraschall has received multiple inquiries from medical technology customers who are expanding their existing production capacities.
However, the company has also had contact with producers of nonwovens for the hygiene market, who are switching from diaper to mask production, as well as with players in, for example, the automotive industry, wishing to enter the market.
Herrmann Ultraschall has identified nine different types of mask, said CEO Thomas Herrmann, ranging from simple face masks to complex 3D deep-drawn masks with breathing valves. The company has now set up a ‘mask task force’ in order to be able to coordinate the various production efforts. The technological solutions range from simple intermittent manual welding to complex high-speed systems. He added that special shifts are being worked in order to be able to keep up with demand.
As most mask producers are located in Asia, the company is also working with prospective mask suppliers around Europe on the conversion of their machinery in order to make it possible to produce masks. The company supported Italian diaper manufacturer Fippi, in Milan, with the switch to mask production. That company is now achieving a capacity of 900,000 masks per day.
Herrmann is also in discussion with the Reifenhäuser Group for mask production in Germany.