In response to the Victorian Government’s mandate that people are to wear face masks outside the home as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Vivad has partnered with printer manufacturer Durst, to start manufacturing printed reusable ‘Community-Masks’.
These ‘Community-Masks’ have a certified filter membrane (type N95) with hydrophobic properties and a microporous structure but are not sold as medical grade.
The initiative was introduced in April when Durst announced that it will be producing three-layer face masks which include a high-filtration efficiency filter membrane at its production HQ in Italy.
Durst used its years of experience and knowledge of filter systems to stop microparticles in ink supply systems from clogging up print heads to develop the material for the filter membrane used in the masks.
As per the partnership, Durst provides the N95 filter material to Vivad while the latter prints on the shell and manufactures the combined face masks in its Campbellfield, Melbourne facility.
“Durst was very much on the front foot to develop the filter which goes into the ‘Community-Masks’ as the pandemic broke out in Europe first. Given that the Victorian Government is making outdoor use of masks mandatory, Durst provided Vivad with the opportunity to make these masks,” Vivad Australia managing director Ewen Donaldson said.
The face masks are printed on a Durst Rhotex 325, which Vivad purchased in 2018.
“The printer is extremely reliable and is of high production technology using water-based dye sublimation inks with no VOCs. We print onto paper and then transfer it onto the polyester fabric,” Donaldson told Sprinter.
Customers will be able to apply their own branding, or choose an existing design and the masks will be available for purchase through Vivad’s web-to-print portal in the coming days.
“Vivad’s click and print web-to-print portal is used for large format print jobs. We developed it over the last five years or so and it presents people with the opportunity to fill their order online and upload the artwork desired for customised masks or they can choose to purchase pre-printed masks,” Donaldson added.
Customers have a choice of ordering the ‘Community-Masks’ in three different sizes – small, medium or large.
Despite the high filtration efficiency of up to 95 per cent, they are particularly breathable, suitable for long wearing, and are durable, according to Donaldson.
“The print process is the same as what is used in the print of active wear, so the dye sublimation process enables the pigment to become part of the fabric. As a result, washing it frequently is not going to impact the quality of the print,” he said.
“The masks themselves can go into the washing machine, while the filters have their own process for cleaning and sterilising.
“We’re doing what we can when we can during the pandemic and for Vivad, we are doing anything that can assist in terms of stopping the spread. By offering a higher-quality reusable mask, means there’s less littering of disposable masks and a cost saving from purchasing these disposable masks.
“It also gives us, as a business some form of revenue because we have been predominantly doing work for the events and exhibitions industry, which has been severely impacted as a result of the pandemic.”
Stocks of the ‘Community-Masks’ will be limited until production can be increased to meet the demand.
“We’re probably going to release small amounts of masks at a time and we may decide to limit the number that people purchase depending on demand. We haven’t put a cap on numbers as of now, but we’re working that out,” Donaldson mentioned.
Durst Oceania managing director Matt Ashman previously said it is this inner lining which sets the Durst masks apart from others as the lining is certified from European medical authorities.
“The filter membrane was something we worked hard to get and make sure it is certified,” Ashman told Sprinter.
“We have done this because obviously, a lot of our customers are furloughed or not so busy so this is a way of producing a product that is in need or even producing a product to help the community if they wanted to do it as a not-for-profit.”
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