Biax-Fiberfilm Corporation of Greenville, WI, is scaling up its melt-blown fabric production for N95 masks and other medical applications. It has purchased a former Kimberly-Clark facility in Neenah which allows it additional space for the purpose. The plant that is being set up will be a mix between old and new technology developed by Biax-Fiberfilm.

“We are currently running around the clock on two machines and the new capacity in Neenah will be five times higher,” says Biax-Fiberfilm president Douglas Brown. “The purchase of a former Kimberly-Clark facility in Neenah allows us additional space, plus some of the common machine parts (usually long lead time pieces) that will assist with our fast scale up. The plant will be a mix between old and new technology developed by Biax-Fiberfilm.”

The company expects production to start at the new facility as early as June. With Brown’s patented technology and association with the world’s premier equipment supplier, Reifenhauser, the transition is expected to be a smooth one. Three 60-inch-wide production lines are planned. The nonwoven melt-blown fabric and a patented spun-blown system that produces fabrics that few others in the world can create are currently being produced at the headquarters Greenville factory. It is enough for about 3.5 million masks per day.

These complicated nonwovens fabrics consist of synthetic fibres stretched in an airstream and flattened into rolls for mask production. Exacting standards must be met, and quality controls are part of the process. “Our materials have been used in masks, physicians’ PPE and in the filtration industry,” says Brown. “A key is the breathable, yet tight ‘knit’ result that keeps out the virus.”

Brown is confident that with existing meltblowing and web/film stretching technologies combined with new ideas currently being developed “in our R and D department on biodegradable microfibres and submicron fibres, Biax-Fiberfilm will remain an innovative leader.”