Analysis and studies of human behavior poses problems with the true protective effectiveness against the coronavirus in the masks currently available and the large efforts to make homemade options. For instance, studies performed in medical settings show there is little difference in using N95 vs surgical masks; even though N95 masks have better coverage and are more protective of viral particles. This is potentially due to comfort level; since N95 masks are uncomfortable for longer term use, this constant adjusting exposes the wearer. Cloth masks are only slightly better than wearing nothing at all, in terms of particle filtration, and are advised to not be used by medical professionals. As designers and fashion brands gear up production for face masks, there needs to be pause on the best materials and designs that will help combat the virus.
Read the study here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150422121724.htm
Overview of the problems we face with current masks:
+ N95 masks provide more coverage from surgical masks as it is more form-fitting around the face.
+ N95 respirators are often considered uncomfortable for regular use.
+ Discomfort leads to inadvertent face contamination, negating some benefit.
+ Improper woven or knitted fabric cloths allow too much penetration, moisture retention, and the allure of reusability without proper sanitation. All of which will cause more transfer of potentially compromised surfaces.
+ Penetration of cloth masks by particles was almost 97% compared to medical masks with 44%. Therefore there is only 3% more particle coverage, than wearing nothing at all. At this point the question of constant adjusting will have to be assessed, if wearing cloth masks could be worse in a highly infectious setting.
+ Cloth masks should have inserts for filters.
+ Medical masks require a Fiberweb® meltdown non-woven material. Providing a high surface area for excellent insulation, softness, and filtration characteristics.
+ Surgical masks were originally designed to protect the wearer from infectious droplets in clinical settings, but does not help much to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases.
+ Surgical and N95 masks may trap the droplets but the virus is still infectious on the surface of the mask.
+ Face Shields might be the best way to provide aid healthcare workers, as this does not need to provide filtration.
These are all factors to keep in mind when producing masks. Below are some companies that might help combat some of these issues using specialized fabric and agents, as well as providing patterns. Unfortunately many are still in developmental stages and are now trying to speed up production to combat Covid-19.
[ FOR AT-HOME SEWERS ]
For at home-sewers, simple and easy directions using household fabrics to create masks. As well as printable patterns.
[ TEXTILE TECH FIGHTING BACTERIA ]
+ VIRUSTATIC SHIELD
Anti-viral fabric coating trapping and killing 96% of viruses and pathogens. Reusable, washable, and suitable for all ages. It is also lightweight, hygienic, and moulds to face.
+ SONOVIA TECH
Nano-coating technology of metallic nanoparticles using sound waves to actively impregnate potent antibacterial and anti-viral non-toxic chemicals to ensure long-term durable protection. Potent for up to 100 washes.
Anti-microbial agent that can be added to any natural clothing or textile. Does not use nanoparticles or harmful chemicals that break down or leach into skin or the environment. Repels liquid, stain resistant, fast-drying 40% faster, and Bluesign® approved.
+ BLUEWAVE TECHNOLOGIES
In preliminary testing, this technology uses room-temperature ozone gas, enhanced by a proprietary vacuum infusion process, to effectively kill bacteria and viruses without the use of water, detergents, or added chemicals. In less than ten minutes, BLUEWAVE killed 99.91% of the non-enveloped virus MS2 Bacteriophage on 2-ply porous polyester fabric, and 99.999% on stainless steel surfaces.
[ SURFACE TECH ]
+ SURFACE SKINS
Engineered to kill deposited germs and bacteria in the seconds between one user and the next. A membrane with tiny valves that releases alcohol gel with ever contact.
[ COMPANIES RELEASING PATTERNS ]
Direct download of medical mask, gowns, and face shields. With clear instructions and resources.
Single piece pattern knit using circular knitting machines. using double layer fabric and a tubular fabric insert. Using a series of structures, such as plain fabric, run proof, micromesh, net, reinforced band, reinforced, and floated patterns.
Available in it's online pattern shop, Pattern No. 2010030 | 2010031.
+ KARL MAYER
A seamless warp-knitted protection mask with inserted non-woven as protection against airborne-infection can be produced on warp knitting machines DJ or RDPJ with high productivity in one step. High stretch provides comfortable wearing.
+ LONATI GROUP / SANTONI
Seamless one piece, combined with antimicrobial and water resistant treatments.
Seamless antimicrobial-treated one piece knitwear made of 88% polyester and 12% elastane mix.
+ SHIMA SEIKI
Cotton mask to be produced on Shima Seiki's SVR093SP, SVR123SP and SVR183SP computerized knitting machines equipped with a dedicated loop presser bed mounted above the rear needle bed.
It seems there is not a perfect solution at the moment. At the very least, the cloth masks can be a way for those not showing symptoms or a means when there is no other alternative. As well as for the general public, as a reminder and as a way to bit more protected. That way the best resources are left for medical professionals dealing day in and day out with the coronavirus. On the bright side, with all the focus on this there will be plenty of innovation in this field, so that those in the front lines can soon have a large and effective supply of proper protective gear!
Check out these references for further research:
- Research studies on Cloth masks: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150422121724.htm
- N95 vs Surgical masks: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160307124049.htm
- Technical Non-Woven: http://www.technicalnonwovens.com/product/fiberweb-meltblown
- Manufacturing Method for Surgical Face Masks: http://jairjp.com/NOVEMBER%202013/02%20CHELLAMANI%201.pdf