Under Armor sportswear company has just announced a new surgical mask, made from a single cloth and does not require any seam. That means it can be quickly produced in large numbers to meet the needs of the medical team on the front line of the corona virus crisis. Under Armor is estimated to be able to produce 100,000 masks each week.
Shortages of protective equipment for health workers are occurring globally. This problem is likely to be exacerbated if the CDC decides to go against previous recommendations and asks the general public to wear masks in public places. Hospitals are calling for donations of masks, safety vests, and other equipment; and many apparel brands including Rothy’s, American Giant, and Christiana Siriano have quickly converted their production lines to meet demand. Under Armor is one of them.
Under Armor leaders are starting to think about how they can use their resources to help hospitals across the United States. Within a week, Under Armor turned the laboratory at their Baltimore headquarters – also known as the UA Lighthouse – into a factory manufacturing disposable surgical masks, face masks, and even masks. are the types of hip bags.
Randy Harward, a Vice President of Under Armor, was tasked with overseeing the company’s mask production process. He made a request to 50 designers in the company, that they had to come up with a model that could be produced quickly and on a mass scale. After a modeling process, they came up with a one-piece mask-free design. Although a mask has many different designs, a regular mask will consist of many pieces of cloth sewn together. “This design allows us to share masks with health facilities faster than when sewing“- Harward said.
Under Armor masks are made from breathable, moisture-resistant fabrics, similar to materials used for traditional surgical masks. (One study found that medical masks allowed only 44% of airborne particles to pass through.) Harward explained that masks have two main purposes. They make it harder for the wearer to touch their face, reducing the risk of self-infection. And given that many people do not realize they are carrying the virus because there are no symptoms, masks can reduce the spread of the virus in hospital settings. “Our masks act as the first line of defense, reducing the spread of viruses through moisture and water droplets.– Harward explained.
Under Armor sets the nickname for this design as “origami mask“Because the folds on the mask are like origami. The folds are carefully arranged to adapt to the shape of the face, emerging to cover the nose, cheeks and chin. The fabric to create a mask is no. absorbent wick to prevent water droplets from the wearer from escaping to the air, and large enough to cover the entire face from the bridge of the nose to the gap behind the ears, and is fixed by a long strip of cloth tied behind the head This ensures that it is securely fixed, leaving no space around the edges of the mask.The mask is designed to be used for one day and then discarded.
The company has now taken advantage of an unused portion of the Lighthouse as a factory to mass produce masks at a rate of 100,000 a week. They will use their own cutter, which is a very efficient fabric cutter, to cut nearly 100 pieces of cloth at once. The cut fabric will be transferred to a group of volunteers to fold and prepare for distribution. These masks will be transferred to 28,000 health workers in the University of Maryland medical system who are fighting the corona virus in Baltimore. Maryland is becoming a hot spot, with the number of cases increasing more than 20% this week, as of April 2, there were 1,985 infections and 31 deaths.
Under Armor also transferred masks to other regional health clinics, including LifeBridge Health, Johns Hopkins Medicine and MedStar. Its masks will be sold to these organizations rather than donated as the University of Maryland.
Pothik Chatterjee, director of research and innovation at LifeBridge Health, says his team is struggling to find personal protective equipment for its hospital system. “There is definitely a rising price situation, and there are many companies that are not reliable. It is too good to buy masks like this for our staff“.
Under Armor masks have not been certified by any medical organization. In the official statement, the company said its mask “can bring an additional virus barrier to protect health workers“(For example, some doctors may wear it on an N95 respirator so the mask below will last longer).
Chatterjee says that Under Armor masks offer the same protection as a surgical mask, and when used in conjunction with a face mask – a transparent plastic piece designed to cover your face – they will provide adequate protection for personnel not yet exposed to COVID-19 patients. “All of our N95 masks are given priority to people who work directly in COVID-19 disease rooms and intensive care units,” he said. “But we need masks for the entire health system. We want employees to wear masks when they walk in the corridors and out in their cars“.
Under Armor says it is working on 3D printing of N95 and N80 masks, which are certified to be able to block 95% and 80% of air molecules, respectively. Several other organizations have found a way to create an N95 respirator with a 3D printer, and because Lighthouse has many 3D printers, it can meet the N95 mask needs in Maryland. “We are looking for more PPE for the next few weeks, but the usual supply chain has been disrupted“- Chatterjee said.”We are currently relying on companies that have manufacturing capacity in the United States“.