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Tokyo - Two Japanese companies have begun producing sustainable, reusable facemasks on Shima Seiki WHOLEGARMENT knitting machines.

TBM and yarn manufacturer Bioworks are promoting the re-use of the washable face masks to help resolve the shortage of face masks worldwide, while at the same time striving to improve the environmental footprint by using renewable biomass-based resources including PLA (polylactic acid).

Production of the Bio Face masks outside of Japan is also planned with the companies looking for partner companies and organizations that can market and distribute the products.

"Most of the disposable face masks are made of petroleum-derived plastic, and—as face mask consumption increases—appropriate disposal of face masks is becoming critical as there are masks washed out to sea and ended up on beaches," said Nobuyoshi Yamasaki, CEO of TBM. "By supplying biomass-based and reusable Bio Face masks all over the world, including countries and regions where the Covid-19 is spreading as well as developing countries that are faced with shortage of face masks, TBM and Bioworks are striving to protect people around the world from the risk of infection, and protect the global environment."

The production of Bio Face, which also offers antibacterial properties, follows a collaboration between TBM and Bioworks and flat knitting machine builder Shima Seiki. Together, the companies achieved a mask design that is comfortable and easily fits the shape of a face, by knitting masks three dimensionally on WHOLEGARMENT machines using the PLA yarns developed amongst the three parties.

With WHOLEGARMENT technology there also are added environmental benefits with a removal of fabric waste achieved during the knitting process.

Features include:

  • Bio Face masks help to prevent spray from coughing and sneezing and can also reduce exposure to various allergens.
  • They can be washed and reused. They can be washed around 30 times.
  • Bio Face masks have been reported to be antibacterial and mildly acidic (close to human skin) by a Japanese testing laboratory
  • The masks are comfortable and fit the shape of a face, since they have a 3D knit shape that leaves room around the mouth.
  • Bio Face masks can be equipped with commercially available virus filters, cotton gauze, and similar accessories.

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