Addressing the face mask crisis with the Mimaki TR300-1850C coater

June 01, 2020
Mimaki technology used to process mask material that is both functional and fashionable to wear Mimaki technology used to process mask material that is both functional and fashionable to wear

Many manufacturing companies have decided to convert production to contribute to addressing the COVID-19 crisis. In the textile sector in particular, print service providers have started producing masks and other kinds of facial protection, due to the sudden surge in demand and limited supply.

So that masks, both medical and non-medical, can guarantee protection while being suitable for contact with the face, the fabrics used must meet specific technical requirements. Often many layers of different fabrics are used, including polyester, warp knits, standard knits and non-wovens. Two fundamental properties are needed to achieve maximum functional and protective efficiency: impermeability and sterility.

Mimaki technology meets these specific requirements with a highly effective solution for fabric preparation. The TR300-1850C pre-treatment unit, originally designed for inkjet printing applications, can now process mask materials, simply by using it with different chemicals. “Appropriate fabric preparation is essential for producing masks. At the moment this remains one of the trickiest aspects for operators in the textile sector”, explains Marco Vanzini, Sales Director at Mimaki Bompan Textile. “Although it was developed for inkjet printing, the Mimaki TR300-1850C coater has demonstrated its suitability for the specific treatments making mask materials sterile and impermeable.”

Part of the TR Series, an innovative range of pre- and post-treatment systems developed by Mimaki, the TR300-1850C digital coater offers a compact design for installation in any production environment. Easy to use, this roll-to-roll unit makes it simple to apply the coating: once inserted, the fabric passes through a padder, where it is implanted with the selected chemicals, then proceeding to successive phases through squeeze rollers and a dryer, before being rewound into a roll.

Using the coater to meet the mask challenge, fabrics can be treated with water-soluble antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral disinfectants, such as salicylic acid and bleach. As for impermeability, this can be obtained by dissolving silicone-based products in water.

We are convinced of the potential of this solution, not only in helping to optimise mask production today, but also in opening up a brighter, more optimistic perspective for the steps ahead. It is clear by now that masks and facial PPE will be part of our everyday lives even after the worst of the COVID-19 crisis, in what is called phase 2. It will be important to be prepared, adapting production methods to offer accessories that are both functional and pleasant to wear”, adds Vanzini. “Fabrics pre-treated with the TR300-1850C coater can be decorated and personalised using Mimaki sublimation transfer printing plotters, meeting the demand for trendy accessories that is sure to come from the market.”

For further information about Mimaki's products, including its full portfolio of printers and inks, please visit www.mimakieurope.com.

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