Ahlstrom-Munksjo Expands Face Mask Material Production


Nonwovens producer converts lines in Italy, Finland in response to Covid-19 crisis

Ahlstrom-Munksjö has increased capacity across its entire protective medical fabrics product portfolio to support the healthcare industry. The exponential spread of the COVID-19 virus around the world has caused an exceptional situation, creating strong demand for healthcare goods in general, and specifically for protective medical products that are made from the company’s fabrics. It is also expanding manufacturing of fabrics production lines normally used for producing other fiber-based materials and providing support with its in-dept knowledge of fiber-based solutions. 

In the beginning of March, the company expanded the production of face mask materials to a fine fiber line normally used for industrial filtration materials at its site in Turin, Italy. The technology is unique, generating good protection and breathability for medical use, and approved as a surgical mask, according to the company,. The advantage of this technology compared to the commonly available electrostatically charged material is its durability. Protection efficiency of electrostatically charged materials is lost overtime when humidity gets in contact with the filter media, whereas protection efficiency of a mechanical filter media remains intact over time. First orders were received in the middle of March, and Ahlstrom-Munksjö is now targeting to ramp up fabrics production for more than 20 million face masks per month. 

In April, Ahlstrom-Munksjö is expanding the production of face mask materials to a line normally used for industrial filtration materials at its Tampere plant in Finland. Currently the material is well suited for lighter fabric face masks in civil activities. Droplets test shows that the media has efficiency above 90% at three microns and above 85% at one micron, which is close to a surgical face mask requirement. Development continues to meet the requirements of material for surgical masks for medical use. Considering the ongoing production, the Tampere plant can deliver fabrics for around 10 million face masks per month on a short notice.