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Kuraray to expand production of meltblown materials for face masks

By Mary Page Bailey |

Kuraray Co. (Tokyo) plans to modify the production lineup of its meltblown nonwoven-fabric production facility, which is located on the premises of the Okayama Factory, a facility run by nonwoven fabric production and sales subsidiary Kuraray Kuraflex Co., Ltd. that is currently undergoing expansion. This move will result in the production of face mask filters at said facility and is aimed at meeting surging demand for nonwoven fabrics for use as mask filters. The expansion will augment production by 900 tons per year; total meltblown nonwoven fabric production will subsequently be 2,700 tons per year. The augmented production is expected to be available by the end of November 2020.

The Kuraray Group’s meltblown nonwoven fabrics are currently being used as a filter material in various applications, including face masks, thanks to their fine structure consisting solely of extremely thin polymer fibers that are firmly intertwined without the use of binders.

Currently, there is a lingering shortage of face mask filters due to a rapid increase in domestic demand amid the widespread implementation of novel coronavirus countermeasures. In particular, high-performance filters for use in surgical masks have been seriously depleted.

Although the Kuraray Group has been marketing its meltblown nonwoven fabrics for a variety of applications, such as face masks, filtering materials for food and beverage production and air filters, the Group’s existing facilities for producing mask filters have been in constant full-capacity operation due to tight demand-supply status reflecting the recent spread of the novel coronavirus.

Against this backdrop, the Group decided to modify the production item lineup of this meltblown nonwoven fabric production facility currently undergoing expansion to enable to produce face mask filters. This move is expected to empower the Group to produce enough sheets of meltblown nonwoven fabric for approximately 300 million face masks per year. In this way, the Kuraray Group will contribute to nationwide efforts aimed at preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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