At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a major shortage of face masks. Dipole Materials, a Materic company, specializes in electrospinning, which is one of the methodologies that enables the production of high-quality face mask filters. The company quickly pivoted its manufacturing work to help address the mask shortage.
Requests for filters came from dozens of face mask producers, each with different design and performance needs. The face mask filter business is highly commoditized and traditionally served by only the largest electrospinning operations. With Dipole’s focus on specialty, smaller-scale production, the company had not previously developed a product for this market.
Over two weeks, Dipole quickly screened numerous polymers, formulations, and electrospinning conditions to determine a single filter material suitable for use in a broad variety of cut-and-sew and rigid-frame face masks. The filter provided 80% filtration of 300 nm particles and sufficient durability to be hand- and machine-processed into various shapes.
Dipole produced the face mask filter material on a 24/7 basis for several months, until larger manufacturers were able to adequately fill the pipeline with conventional commodity filter materials. The company’s expertise in filter material development and testing has allowed it to work with several clients on many specialty projects, including for filters with antimicrobial, gas absorption, and visual transparency properties.