N95 respirators are made up of non-woven fabric that gives it an electrostatic property. The N95 respirator is a special type of PPE which is very helpful in reducing the risk of respiratory tract infections. It is a half-face disposable mask that can be easily worn for a longer time duration as it is approved by NIOSH and regulated by CDC and FDA for durability and filtration efficiency. N95 respirators can filter all micro-organisms ranging from 0.3 microns to the largest dust particles. This mask cannot resist oil particles and gases.
N95 respirators have played a very important and significant role in the COVID-19 pandemic. All N95 respirators and N95 models have filtration efficiency that is 95%. These respirators were in great demand from the very beginning of the health crisis because they have can be wear for a long time duration and it can filter out any hazardous airborne particle up to 95%. The best thing about these respirators is that it does not cause any irritation, discomfort, and suffocation.
For having topmost qualities, there is a shortage in the N95 respirator’s supply. The whole world and especially all health care practitioners who work as the first line of defense during COVID-19 were at higher risk of getting infected. This issue has become the main concern of all time because who will be going to treat the coronavirus affected person if all health care practitioners were suffering from the same condition?
The shortage of N95 respirators has motivated many companies to start manufacturing these respirators. Although it all were not get approved by NIOSH, CDC, and FDA the effort they made and the intention they had are admirable! U.S top N95 respirator manufacturing Companies also contribute in this regard by multiplying their production rate for three to four times. These companies include Honeywell, 3M, Prestige Ameritech, and many more. These companies worked all day and night to save a life all across the world.
To manufacture the N95 respirators is not an easy task. These respirators are made up of non-woven fabric which is made from polypropylene. It is consists of a total of three layers. The two-out layers act as a protection against the outside environment and also work as a barrier during the exhalation period of the wearer which simply means that it can help the wearer to not get affected by outside airborne infection and also resist the patient to not spread such infectious agent in the environment through coughing, sneezing and breathing. It also contains a third layer which is known as a pre-filtration layer that gives N95 respirator an extra filtration efficiency of 95% to filter out all harmful agents including dust, infections, and fumes. The fabric used in all medical purposes mask includes: Spun bond fabric, Melt blown filter, Activate carbon fabric, hot air cotton,
Manufacturing Process of N95 respirator
The manufacturing process of N95 respirators includes several steps. N95 respirator’s outer and inner layer which is protective in nature is created using the spun method. What is the spun method? This is a soft fabric which was used to create the outer layer made up of 50 GSM and the inner layer made from 20 GSM of the spun bond. These fibers are bonded through thermal, mechanical, or chemical techniques. The main advantage of using spun-bond fabric is that it is air permeable, disposable, and waterproof in nature.
The mask also contains a pre-filtration layer which is also non-woven. To increase the binding force in the pre-filtration layer, these non-woven fabrics repeatedly undergo in the barbed needles to hook the fibers together. It will increase the cohesiveness of non-woven fabric. After going through the barbed needle procedure, this pre-filtration layer then runs through the hot calendering process, which allows the plastic fibers to strongly bind together by running through the heated rolls with high pressure. This process helps to mold the shape of the mask according to the individual’s nose size and makes the pre-filtration layer thicker and stiffer. After this method the pre-filtration layer is ready to filter out all harmful infectious agents.
Moving towards the last layer, the last layer is made up of non-woven melt-blown fiber, which determines the high filtration efficiency of an N95 respirator. This process is more and less the same as the spun bonding process; the only difference between these two methods is the size of the fibers. Melt blowing method contains multiple machine nozzles that are used to spread the thread of melted polymers onto a conveyor but these fibers are much smaller in size as less than a micron wide. The conveyor continued and these threads built up and made a tough bond between them-selves as they started to get cool and create the fabric. Sometimes, thermal energy can also be added to the melt-blown fabric to add strength and resistance.
The final step of manufacturing N95 respirator includes the combining of these layers through ultrasonic welding. Then the addition of straps and metal strips will be done by machinery to adjust the N95 respirator according to the individual’s nose size. The last and final step includes the process of sterilization. After the complete manufacture of the N95 respirator, these respirators go through the sterilization machine to get free from all infectious and hazardous particles. The whole above-mentioned process is time taking and that’s the biggest reason for its shortage in the COVID-19.