Although N95 respirators are the face masks most in demand by healthcare workers and first responders, they require a meltblown polypropylene filter material that is not easily produced at the high quality necessary for it to be effective. Therefore, most of these products are still being made by companies such as 3M and Honeywell that already have knowledge and capabilities in this area.
However, a coalition of apparel and textile companies in the US have begun supplying a useful but less sophisticated class of face masks. Because these companies are not technical textile companies, they are making masks with jersey cotton and antimicrobial coatings using a design approved by the US Department of Health and Human Services. These masks were also approved by the US Food and Drug Administration so that they could be labeled as medically certified for use in hospitals. While they are not able to filter out viruses, they are better than nothing for use by healthcare workers interacting with patients or for the general public in situations where there is not an known infection present.
Others are developing a mask that is generally reusable but that features a replaceable meltblown polypropylene N95-level filter. Another group, Stop the Spread, is innovating by promoting partnerships. The organization is a new coalition of volunteer CEOs seeking to connect businesses that can provide different levels of assistance in the production of goods needed to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
Joint ventures, technology transfers, and industry coalitions will allow companies to adapt to the changing conditions and needs of the COVID-19 crisis and expand production capacities into needed areas. The assistance of regulatory agencies that can either fast-track approval or offer a pre-approved design will allow manufactures to respond more nimbly.
For more information, see The Freedonia Group’s Global Nonwovens, US Nonwovens, Global Filters, Global Medical Disposable Supplies, and Disposable Medical Supplies in the US reports. Each report includes analysis of competitive strategies, including joint ventures and merger and acquisition activity. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.