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International Collaboration Evolves into Face Mask Development

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Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University

hfjourney2A unique international collaboration between a shoe industry, textile sector and academia results in functional and fashionable face masks. As in India and other economies, industries are slowly commencing their manufacturing activities, social distancing and strict hygiene practices have become a new normal. This has enhanced the need for hand sanitizers, gloves and face masks. Industries are looking for innovative ways to survive by repurposing their capacities that can cater to the need of COVID-19 situation.

Interestingly, collaborations are evolving between different sectors such as shoe manufacturing, textiles and cotton sector. Ranipet, India-based Arrow Brogues, Pvt. Ltd., a shoe manufacturer is collaborating with this scribe’s Nonwovens and Advanced Laboratory at Texas Tech University and Chennai-based WellGro United to develop filtering and fashionable face masks.

Arrow Brogues, Pvt. Ltd., has been in shoe manufacturing for 20 years catering to Indian and foreign markets such as Italy, Germany and United Kingdom. Masks are released under brand name H.F. Journey, which has nonwoven cotton as core filter substrate. The design expertise of Arrow Brogues has been valuable in the development of H.F. Journey masks. WellGro United supplies the core filter substrate for the masks.

“We understand the need for protection technologies and hence sought the collaboration with Texas Tech University in developing masks that have functionality and fashion sense,” stated Velayutham Pandy, managing director of Arrow Brogues, Pvt. Ltd. The project showcases timely innovation as it has repurposed the cotton nonwoven technology to develop filter substrate. “This is a milestone for WellGro United as it has created a new vertical in our line of products which find timely use,” stated Nambi Srinivasan, vice president marketing of WellGro United. It is pleasing to report cotton is finding new applications in the current COVID-19 scenario, enabling a few timely innovations.