The Anatomy of our Surgical 3 Ply Face Mask.
We have all read about cheap disposable face masks from overseas potentially being made with fiberglass or having “chemicals” in them and how they irritate skin or don’t have good filtration. Regardless of how true that is, it brings up the question, what are disposable face masks made from? By learning about the raw materials used, light can be shed on how they truly function and why some don’t work well.
The short answer about the ingredients of a disposable face mask is, they’re almost all plastic. To be specific they are made of polypropylene which is the 2nd most used commodity plastic in the world and can be found in many products from food containers to lawn chairs. It is considered a low hazard material and is something you interact with many times throughout your day and is a component in an immense amount of products.
To be more specific there are several different methods of extrusion that determine what type of end product the polypropylene becomes. The outer layers of a disposable face mask (and KN95 as well as N95) are made up of spunbond which is extruded through a die assembly (essentially a dispensing nozzle) onto a collector with a hot cross air flow that lays the fibers on top of each other. The inner layer is called meltblown and it is made in a similar fashion as the spunbond, except it is extruded through a finer die assembly to create more delicate strands, and the hot air converges with the fiber as it emerges from the die. This creates a smaller pore size allowing for the web of fibers to filter smaller particles. These are the main differences between spunbond and meltblown but they are made from the same materials.
Now that you know a little more about what the masks are made of it’s time to talk about specifically what our masks are made of. While we use polypropylene like many other manufacturers, we strive to use the best quality materials that are sourced here in the United States. The major reason for this is because we can ensure that the quality is consistent, legitimate, and tested by accredited laboratories such as Nelson. On top of that it supports domestic manufacturing and recycles the money we spend into our economy and is all around good for the health of the country, and for you as well!
Delving deeper let’s talk about the details of what our masks are made of and what makes them so good. We use a 30 gsm spunbond for the outer layers to ensure that the masks are not only durable, but repel moisture effectively while still being soft enough to be gentle on skin. If you increase the gsm too high the fabric becomes rough and if it is too low then it won’t repel moisture as efficiently or be as durable. Our inner layer of meltblown is 30 gsm, which was chosen for being excellent at filtration while also providing a high level of breathability making it comfortable and effective to wear for prolonged periods. Compare this to many overseas manufacturers, who use an average of 20 gsm for their outer layers and as low as 10 gsm for their inner layers, with no guarantee that the materials were extruded correctly.
Lastly I want to touch on our accessory pieces like ear loop and nose bridge, both of which we source from reputable domestic manufacturers. Our ear loop is made of polyester spandex, a common fabric in garments, that was chosen for two primary reasons. The first is that it has the perfect amount of elasticity which means it won’t pull hard on your ears to keep the mask close to your face nor will it become loose if you have to take the same mask on and off. The second is that it is a comfortable medium weave fabric that won’t cause a lot of ear fatigue if worn for long periods, in fact we like them so much we jokingly call them “air loops” since they feel like air on your ears. Our nose bridge is the last component and we source it from the largest domestic manufacturer of twist ties who know their business well. They were chosen for their quality, consistency, and durability of their product which allows the nose bridge to be adjusted many times before it is damaged. They also use a heavier gauge wire than overseas manufacturers which lends to the nose bridge holding its form better and creating a solid seal over the nose.
I hope that you found this post educational, interesting, and gave you a better understanding of the anatomy of a face mask. If you would like more information or have any questions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org