Textiles Industry Getting Creative in Fight Against COVID-19

Companies ranging from advanced textiles to apparel manufacturers are getting creative in supporting the fight against the coronavirus.

As the COVID-19 virus is a novel strain, vaccines and medications are not yet readily available to treat the infected, and good hygiene practices will play a greater part in preventing its transmission.

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The textiles industry has received greater attention from governments to work on a wartime footing and deliver important items such as face masks, nose shields, personnel protective equipment and wipes.

Major manufacturers like Nike and Apple to small business entities like First Line Technology have geared up their efforts to deliver preventive countermeasures.

Creativity is now the name of the game. Apparel industries are repurposing their regular lines to create masks. Hanes Company has developed a 3-ply cotton structure that can be used as masks. 3M Company has doubled its global production of N-95 respirators to 1.1 billion, with a monthly production of 100 million.  

COVID-19 is proving highly transmittable and is spread by air droplets and through bodily fluids containing the virus. However, porous structures like textiles seem to contain them better than hard surface. Experts say the virus can stay on a surface like textiles for 24-72 hours but get absorbed into the structure, which is important for containment. Single use-wipes and protective materials will be ideal. However, there is an acute shortage of these critical needs.

Dry and wet wipes could help to decontaminate the surfaces. Dry wipes like FiberTect can help as a countermeasures tool. “It is widely used as the primary dry decontamination method in hospitals and ambulances,” said Corey Collins, a training specialist for First Line Technology, which markets FiberTect. “Hospitals use it in bulk and in rolls, and ambulances use it in a FastGrab kit to do immediate decontamination of patients contaminated with a wide variety of substances.”

University laboratories are also contributing to the cause and are using 3-D printing capabilities and machine tool laboratories to develop face masks and face shields. Additionally, they are providing available supplies such as gloves and face masks from their laboratories to the front-line defenders.

“For those who have PPE in laboratories, specifically disposable gloves and N-95 face masks, we want to make an appeal for you to donate these materials to a campus-wide repository we can use to help resupply healthcare providers,” stated Joseph Heppert, Texas Tech University’s vice president for research and innovation in an e-mail to TTU campus community.

The textile industry and other related industries need to be collaborative during this critical time and use its ingenuity in coming up with the supplies needed to save lives.

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