COVID-19 brings out the best in the industry
2020-04-04    [Source:PUdaily]

 PUdaily, Shanghai--With the numbers of COVID-19 patients surging and the death toll rising, the current shortages of personal protective equipment for medical workers on the front line are extremely concerning. The lack of an adequate supply of everything from respirators and gloves to hand sanitizer, face shields and gowns poses a massive risk for anyone in daily contact with infected people. With only the barest minimum of protection, doing their work, as one doctor in the UK expressed it, is like “being sent to war, armed only with toy water pistols.”
The need for more of every kind of protective equipment has roused the plastics community and galvanized companies into action. One after the other, stories are coming in about how companies are converting production lines and donating supplies in an attempt to alleviate the shortages of, particularly, face masks, and to contribute in any way they can.

Here are a few of the latest:

    PLA manufacturer Total Corbion is joining the fight against the Coronavirus by donating 5 tons of Luminy PLA resin to the Smart Materials 3D initiative in Spain for the production of 3D printed medical devices and protective equipment. Smart Materials 3D will produce PLA filament from the donated resin and, in co-creation with, among other volunteers, Fixit, 3D Printers, IMBIC and Clone Wars VLL, use these to print medical masks and protective equipment. The PLA resin donated by Total Corbion will be used to produce and distribute over 125.000 masks to health centres and hospitals across Spain.

    RadiciGroup will donate the first 5,000 gowns to Papa Giovanni XIII hospital in Bergamo, Italy as soon as possible. The company’s nonwovens business unit set up a project in collaboration with local companies – ‘who promptly came on board,’ said Angelo Radici, president of RadiciGroup  - to establish production chain to make protective equipment for medical personnel. “Producing high-performance materials is routine for us,” he pointed out.  10,000 metres of fabric, laminated with a breathable, antimicrobial plastic film produced by local company Plastik SpA is already available.
The material underwent testing for medical use and validation at Centrocot in Varese. Now approved, the first 5,000 gowns have been produced. After supplying the Bergamo hospital,
medical associations, hospitals and other healthcare organizations in need are welcome to apply to RadiciGroup.
Moreover, Radici Plastics Suzhou, a RadiciGroup company based in Jiangsu Province in China, has joined a fund- raising drive promoted by the Italian community in Shanghai to send Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo over 20,000 masks and other medical devices. This equipment has already arrived at its destination.

Solvay provides high-performance films for face shields

    Boeing and chemical giant Solvay have partnered on the production of face shields. Boeing approached Solvay due to its experience in the use of advanced composite and adhesive materials on multiple commercial and defence programs. Solvay is supplying its high-performance, medical-grade Radel polyphenylsulfone (PPSU) or Udel polysulfone (PSU) to Boeing. Both are transparent specialty polymers widely used for medical devices because of their ability to be sterilised and withstand aggressive disinfectants.

    Also committed to playing its part, packaging expert Mondi's Personal Care Components team has found a way to convert a production line at its Gronau plant in Germany to manufacture soft, elastic straps, which are now being used for face masks distributed to medical professionals and consumers globally. Although typically focused on making materials for hygiene products  - think baby diapers, adult incontinence pads and feminine care items. -  the plant was able to quickly adapt one of its manufacturing lines to produce a three-layer, laminated strap that binds a stretchable plastic film between layers of soft, nonwoven material. The straps, which Mondi supplies to its mask-making customers on a reel, are then cut and attached to each side of a mask, which can loop comfortably over the user’s ears to hold the mask in place. This elastic material replaces a rubberised band that holds the mask to the face. This elastic material also allows the machines to run faster than when using rubber.
Mondi also operates a plant in Taicang, China, that laminates film made in Gronau to make nonwoven hygiene products similar to those manufactured in Germany. Demand is now growing for more of such supplies from customers across Europe, prompting the Gronau plant to increase production of this material.

    Covestro, too, has pledged to provide aid during Coronavirus crisis. Among others, the company has provided raw materials for the production of products such as medical devices, safety goggles for medical staff and hospital mattresses. These are supplied to health and care facilities in the vicinity of the plants in numerous countries. In order to continue to relieve the burden on medical facilities and other affected areas and thus support the massive efforts to contain the coronavirus, Covestro is also providing its existing know-how and innovative materials, for instance for the use of 3D printing technology. This also includes freely accessible software for 3D printing of mask holders, which improves the wearability of medical safety masks. In the USA, there is also an ongoing collaboration with 3D printing companies and a research institute exploring 3D printing of ventilator components, using Covestro materials and technical expertise.

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