NC State Textiles Professors/Students Develop Innovative Nonwoven Material, Produce Enough for 500K Surgical Masks A Day

RALEIGH – If the Pack Pride weren’t strong enough across North Carolina, fans and alumni of N.C. State University (NCSU) have another, life-saving reason to love the Wolf Pack. While the world struggles to keep up with demand for respirator and surgical masks during the height of COVID-19, Professors and students at the NCSU Nonwovens Institute have developed an innovative material to be used in manufacturing surgical masks, and they’re producing enough of it to make 500,000 surgical masks a day.

From WECT:

“Because of the COVID-19 crisis, we took the spunbond technology and created a new generation of unique filters that have excellent filtering capability and can be potentially be reused after cleaning with peroxide, or potentially alcohol solution,” said Behnam Pourdeyhimi, executive director of NWI, Wilson College of Textiles associate dean for industry research and extension and William A. Klopman Distinguished Professor. “Because these materials are strong, unlike classical meltblown filters, they can also be cut and sewn by traditional techniques.”

Machines at Nonwovens Institute can produce 20,000 meters a day. One meter can create 20 to 25 masks.

N.C. State is anticipating additional equipment to arrive on campus next month that will allow the material to be converted to masks at NWI Centennial Campus facilities.

“We will set these machines up and take our own materials and convert them into masks and provide them to local communities,” Pourdeyhimi said.”

This is good news. Especially good because the researchers are reaching out to other nonwoven materials producers to see if they can convert some production to masks with this new material. North Carolina, a textiles juggernaut of yesteryear, still has the highest number of nonwoven companies in the entire country. That means we have an enormous capacity to produce the Personal Protective Equipment that healthcare workers desperately need, and general populations will likely be recommended to wear for the foreseeable future.

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