The unprecedented Covid-19 sanitary crisis has highlighted the lack of means and the organization deficiencies that prevail in France in its fight against pandemics. Protective respirators such as FFP2 and surgical masks figure among the means for fighting the virus and have first been dedicated to health workers or to people infected with the virus. In order to stop the propagation of the virus, a new category of masks has been created (non sanitary use: Usage Non Sanitaire, UNS) for the general public (also called community masks), with its own specific regulation. To meet the urgency of the situation and to compensate our lack of capacity to import or produce masks in Europe and France, many textile companies have switched their usual production to community mask production based on woven and knitted materials.
To this day, face coverings are widely used and face masks are even mandatory in the public space. However, the quality of the masks available on the market is highly heterogeneous, including in surgical masks that are imported and used by the general public. We can also note a reluctance of the public to trust masks produced with woven fabrics: their comfort and their lesser performance compared to surgical masks have been questioned, despite their much lower environmental impact compared to the latter.
The MASCOFIL project arises from the will of several academic institutes of the Hauts-de-France (ENSAIT, HEI and Institut Catholique de Lille) to work on new technical solutions in the design and production of high quality community masks that use local and national resources in view of a new pandemic. The project, which has the ambition to be rapidly transferable to the economic field, is also built on a partnership with IFTH (industrial textile centre) and with industrial companies from the Region and beyond (Andritz, Duflot, Macopharma, TIO-NT).
In order to respond to the need of differentiating the masks produced (in terms of gender, age, application fields …), and to promote the best acceptability of the masks from the public, there will be surveys conducted among different publics and the results will be taken into account as far as possible in our mask development.
The final product that is aimed at is a protective community mask that is innovative and ambitious, efficient in terms of filtration, comfortable to wear, breathable, and washable. The filtration media will be produced using carding and spunlace technologies, i.e nonwoven processes that are alternative to those used in FFP2 and surgical masks and have the advantage of being more widely present in France and can hence be easily mobilizable in case of a pandemic. The electrospinning process will also be investigated. Furthermore, these media will have the particularity of being thermally weldable so that the masks can be produced on automatic machines and hence, ensure a very high productivity in order to respond to an urgent and important demand for masks.
Monsieur Philippe Vroman (Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts & Industries Textiles)
The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.
ENSAIT Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts & Industries Textiles
ICL INSTITUT CATHOLIQUE DE LILLE
Help of the ANR 92,165 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: January 2021 - 18 Months