Seshadri Ramkumar, Professor, Texas Tech University, USA
Advanced textiles to apparel manufacturers are turning to their own creative ways to support the fight against the invisible enemy. As the coronavirus is a novel strain, vaccines and medications are not yet readily available to treat the infected, good hygiene practices will play a greater part in preventing its transmission.
Textiles sector 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, Apple to small business entities like Chantilly-based First Line Technology, LLC have geared up their efforts to deliver preventive countermeasures.
Creativity has become the name of the game. Apparel industries are repurposing their regular lines to create masks. Hanes Company has come-up with 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, the disease due to the new coronavirus is highly transmittable and is spread by air droplets and through bodily fluids containing the virus. However, porous structures like textiles seem to be better to contain than hard surface. Experts say the virus can stay on surface like textiles for 24-72 hours, but they get absorbed into the structure, which is important for containment. So 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 FiberTectTM can play its part 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 FiberTectTM. “Hospitals use it in bulk and in rolls, and ambulances use it in a kit called the FastGrab to do immediate decontamination of patients contaminated with a wide variety of substances.”
University laboratories are also contributing to the great cause and are using their 3-D printing capabilities and machine tool laboratories to develop face masks and face shields. Additionally, they are providing available supplies from their laboratories such as gloves and face masks to the front line defenders. “For those who have PPE in laboratory, 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.
Textile sector needs to be collaborative at this critical juncture and use its ingenuity in coming up with supplies that are needed to save lives.
Texsnips’ editor wishes safety and good health to all, as we collectively work to find immediate solutions to counter the virus pandemic. Our heart-felt thanks to all those who are at the front lines in saving lives.