Masks

The TCBL Contribution

The Coronavirus crisis is upending our daily lives and the global economy; the textile and clothing industry is no exception to its devastating effects. TCBL is exploring how we can leverage the unique value of our diffused innovation community to meet the exploding demand for non-medical face masks in the most collaborative and sustainable way possible.

From our first call for proposals for action, we have defined a course of action. This page is a work in progress. You will find:

  1. a census of matchmaking platforms and services at the national, EU and global scale;
  2. information regarding guidelines for mask making.

Matchmaking Platforms

We have compiled a list of some of the main platforms in Europe and around the world that connect supply and demand for fabrics and materials, designers and producers, and distributors both large and small. Some are TCBL service partners while others are good practices from which to learn.

  • Euratex, the European confederation of the Textile Industry, has launched a census of European manufacturers.
  • The Comité Stratégique de la Filière (CSF) in France (Fashion and Luxury Sector Strategic Committee) has launched a platform to bring together textile producers, garment producers, designers, and those requiring masks and connect them to relevant government agencies
  • NeedMask, a startup non-profit registry, has launched a B2B matchmaking platform for sourcing protective masks in large quantity orders.
  • SwatchOn, a Korean distributor, has identified optimal textiles for non-medical-grade fabric masks, and medical scrubs and is offering them at wholesale prices to designers and producers around the world.
  • Masks4Humanity is a non-profit hub operating in the USA, connecting people who need handmade face masks with people making handmade face masks.
  • Sqetch, our main community and matchmaking partner, is continuing to provide individual and community support to those aiming to adapt and convert.

Guidelines for making "barrier masks"

There are varying types and degrees of protection offered by face masks, starting from the different specifications for medical grade types. The World Health Organisation provides guidelines on the use of protective equipment, but specifications for different levels of protection, which vary from country to country. Ratings (e.g. N95 for the USA, FFP 2 and 3 for Europe) indicate the type and degree of filtration, while certification standards (e.g. YY for China, ASTM and NIOSH for the USA, EN 14683 and 149:2001 for Europe) define the testing procedures for assigning those ratings. Finally, every country has its own authorities and procedures to authorise the sale and use of medical equipement including face masks.

In the meantime, workers in public services, company employees and citizens in general are also being asked to use protective face masks, without standards or clear indications of what level of protection is appropriate. As the use of even home-made cotton masks is becoming commonplace, France's AFNOR certification group has produced a reference document that offers protective mask manufacturing requirements that are pragmatically effective, while more relaxed than those observed by surgical mask and FFP2-type mask manufacturers. Along with other measures, these new “barrier masks” can help communities and companies maintain or restart their activities while protecting their citizens and employees.

Intended for both mask manufacturers and the public, the AFNOR publication provides guidance on how to make masks for all healthy individuals, together with a range of good hygiene practices that are essential for tackling the coronavirus epidemic. This document, already with more than 250,000 downloads in less than two weeks, is available in French as well as English and Spanish.