Surgical face masks are a critical protective measure in hospitals for both patients and hospital staff. Quality face masks are of utmost concern for healthcare professionals and for the facility administrators who purchase these essential safety products. The microscopic size of the bacteria means that the fabric used in these masks must prevent the airborne flow of the bacteria from the surgeon’s mouth to the patient and vice versa. Additionally, the masks must protect the wearer against larger molecules like splashed blood in a surgical environment.
But why should healthcare professionals choose a disposable meltblown surgical face mask over a reusable textile mask?
A study in the Journal of Academia and Industrial research compared nonwoven face mask media with traditional and micro-porous textiles over seven properties: mechanical resistance, linting, resistance to bacterial penetration, resistance to liquid penetration, flexibility, drapeability and comfort. The nonwoven fabric far outperformed the other fabrics in four of seven categories and was competitive in two of the remaining three categories.
Page 322, JAIR, Volume 2, Issue 6 November 2013
Arguably, you could increase the ratings on some of those categories by working with a nonwoven manufacturing partner to manipulate fabric properties like drapeability and comfort.
What are some of the other benefits of producing nonwoven surgical facemasks?
- They are commodity products. There are 5,686 registered hospitals in the United States alone with almost 1 million staffed beds. The numbers, when considering disposable nonwovens, are staggering. Surgical face masks are a required component of treatment. A quality disposable face mask manufactured with technically superior materials could be sold as a commodity for many years to come.
- They have significant advantages over woven fabric. In addition to the properties listed in the table above, they have lower manufacturing costs, higher rates of air flow and more efficient bacterial filtration.
- Convenience for hospital staff. Disposable nonwovens are sterilized and packaged and then immediately disposed of after use. The hospital staff doesn’t have to store used fabrics or wash, sterilize and package them for reuse.
Consider working with your nonwoven fabric manufacturer to produce filtration media specifically for use in surgical masks. The market is large and, typically, there is always room for new quality products.