More than a year has gone by since the coronavirus (COVID-19) has stressed our global healthcare system to its limits. According to WHO (World Health Organization), masks are still a key measure to suppress transmission of the deadly virus and save lives. Masks should be used as part of a comprehensive ‘Do it all!’ approach including physical distancing, avoiding crowded, closed and close-contact settings, good ventilation, cleaning hands, covering sneezes and coughs, and more. Depending on the type, masks can be used for either protection of healthy persons or to prevent onward transmission.
What is the difference between medical masks and respirators?
Medical masks (also known as surgical masks) are:
- composed of 3 layers of synthetic nonwoven materials
- configured to have filtration layers sandwiched in the middle
- available in different thicknesses
- have various levels of fluid-resistance and filtration
- have a Nose Clamp to ensure the tight fit
Respirators (also known as filtering facepiece respirators – FFP) are available at different performance levels such as FFP2, FFP3, N95, N99.
Medical masks and respirator masks are similar in their protection value. However, respirators are specific for certain procedures and instances because they have a tightly fitted component to them. Respirator masks are designed to protect healthcare workers who provide care to COVID-19 patients in settings and areas where aerosol generating procedures are undertaken. Healthcare workers should be fit tested before using a respirator to ensure that they are wearing the correct size. Wearing a loose-fitting respirator will not offer the same protection to the wearer and may allow small particles to get inside the mask through the sides.
For more information and guidance on the importance of masks, continue reading on www.who.int.
Metal for N95/FFP2 Mask Nose Clamps, Filters & Gaskets
Ulbrich supports manufacturers for all types of masks using Nose Clamps or "Nose Bridges". The Metal Nose Clamps are critical components of the masks allowing end users to bend the mask around the nose bridge for the tight fit that keeps virulent droplets away from caregiver’s mucus membranes and other vectors of infection. Depending on the individual manufacturer's design, the metal flat wire nose bridge can either be inserted between two layers of fabric, or applied on the outside of the fabric mask.
An ill-fitting mask not only poses the threat of allowing large-particle droplets, splashes, sprays, or splatter that may contain germs (viruses and bacteria), from reaching your mouth and nose, but also brings the annoyance of fogging for eyeglass wearers. This is especially important for medical professionals and frontline workers who wear glasses and need to see clearly at all times. To remedy this while providing invisible comfort, manufacturers can use a fine nickel containing stainless steel strip which will keep masks fitting snugly and prevent glasses from steaming up. In addition to its ease of sourcing and the absence of any allergic reactions, the stainless steel strip can be recycled along with the other materials that constitute the mask.
Most common metals we supply to mask manufacturers
Typically, we supply Aluminum Flat Wire for this application as this is a lightweight material and offers excellent formability characteristics to perfectly fit our individual facial outline. The Aluminum Flat Wire is made by flattening round wire which brings the advantage of naturally round and burr-free edges, with extremely long continuous lengths. The round edges make sure the Nose Clamp is not tearing the synthetic materials and ensure the safety of high-quality masks.
Our in-house coating capabilities assure that our aluminum flat wire is coated on one side with a hot melt adhesive according to customers' requirements. For manufacturers with high automated processes, the length per wire on each spool is also a crucial benefit to keep downtimes as low as possible.
Aluminum Flat Wires for N95/FFP2 Mask Nose Clamps according to customer’s specification are available through Ulbrich Specialty Wire Products' manufacturing locations in SC, USA, as well as in Austria, Europe. We support mask manufacturers with their approach to source their materials regionally to be independent from overseas transportation. Besides lower lead-time, we also help by reducing the carbon footprint for our customers. The mission is to get protective equipment (PPE) into the hands of those who need it.
Ulbrich is your local supplier for critical metal alloy raw materials for medical and respirator masks, ensuring short lead-time and high-quality materials according to your specifications. Contact us today and connect with our technical sales team to talk about your upcoming project details.