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