CLINTON, TENN. (April 9, 2020) –– As demand surges for face masks during the current COVID-19 pandemic, a newly developed solution from Techmer PM, LLC, is boosting the efficacy of the fabrics used in production of such masks.
The Charge Enhancer is used during the production of meltblown nonwoven fabrics to help the resulting masks meet the filtration performance requirements set forth by ASTM F2100.
Techmer PM provides its Charge Enhancer in pellet form to producers of meltblown nonwovens, who then add it to polypropylene in a concentration of 4- 5%.
As the extruded nonwoven comes off the production line in roll form, the material is subjected to an electrical charge via an air plasma treatment, also known as “corona” charging (no relation to the coronavirus). The Charge Enhancer technology helps the meltblown fabric enhance and retain the electrical charge imparted by corona charging.
“Without the Charge Enhancer, the mask media would struggle to retain a filtration efficiency of ≥95%,” said Bhushan Deshpande, Techmer PM’s vice president of technology.
Booming demand is motivating other companies to re-tool to use their meltblown capacity to produce high quality masks. Fernando Peña, Techmer PM’s nonwovens market manager, is assisting them with the knowledge they need to make this transition.
Additionally, academia and industry laboratories that traditionally dedicate their nonwovens equipment to running pilot projects or trials are also modifying their processes to manufacture commercial mask media.
Techmer PM is also testing new technology designed to provide more permanent charge-enhancing effects compared to what is currently available. “This newer technology will be well suited for mask manufacturers looking to develop reusable masks,” according to Deshpande.
In addition to the Charge Enhancer, Techmer PM also manufactures and supplies various other solutions for medical nonwovens, including irradiation stabilizers, hydrophobics, softeners, and Techsurf® hydrophilics.
As for the meltblown nonwovens used in mask media, their ultimate efficacy depends on several variable factors, including fabric structure, process conditions, and the use of charge-enhancing technology. Techmer PM is well placed to offer extensive expertise and technical support to makers of such nonwoven fabrics to help ensure the end products meet the performance requirements needed in potentially life-saving applications.