Copper is the key to Hong Kong innovation
In addition to the INDEX™ nonwovens show, Palexpo is also the venue for the International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva, which is next scheduled to take place from March 10-14 2021, pandemic permitting.
This is the biggest event in the world devoted exclusively to thousands of new inventions from industrial and commercial companies, universities, associations, private and state institutes and individuals.
At the 46th edition of the show in 2018, The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) received a Gold Award for its development of a new product which in 2020 has certainly proved its value – a washable and reusable face mask with an essential nonwoven core.
Facing the global shortage of face masks in early 2020 during the initial Covid-19 outbreak in China, Hong Kong’s government commissioned HKRITA to coordinate the design and production of an upgraded version of this mask and nine million of them were subsequently distributed to Hong Kong citizens, with the help of local partners.
Now named the CuMask+™, HKRITA experimented with various potential configurations of the product before settling on its final structure.
It consists of six different layers which are interdependent on each other and positioned in a specific directional sequence to offer the highest protection and filtration functions. A knitted outer layer and a soft inner woven layer form a shell for the four nonwoven layers of the core component and are sewn together to provide structural integrity and keep the nonwoven antibacterial and filtration layers intact during multiple washing cycles.
The antimicrobial knitted outer layer consists of a combination of copper and cotton yarns that physically block droplets and also provide a degree of UV protection to both the user and the nonwoven core.
Two nonwoven protective layers take the strain and stress from the sandwiched nonwoven filtration and the antimicrobial layers to prolong their useful life.
The antimicrobial layer immobilises microorganisms and two types of material were employed for it – CottonX, a viscose and cotton material impregnated with copper oxide, and a polypropylene nonwoven with copper oxide, both developed by Argaman Technologies of Israel. In both cases, a small amount of micron-sized copper oxide was used as the active ingredient in the material. Copper oxide is fixed to the CottonX material by “sonification”, a patented technology of Argaman. The copper oxide polypropylene mixed material was melt spun, with the copper oxide evenly distributed in the polypropylene. Both materials have a high-performance antibacterial function, even after 60 washes.
The filtration layer is a high-performance meltblown fabric that also retains its effectiveness after multiple washes. The woven layer is made from fine cotton fibres and manages the moisture accumulated between it and the face of the wearer, for additional comfort.
The CuMask+™ reaches the ASTM F2100 Level 1 standard and is effective for 60 washes. After that, it can continue to be used by replacing the filter.
The CuMask+™ was launched on 5th May 2020 and over 1.44 million registrations were received for it online, covering more than 3.93 million registrants. Those in Hong Kong who did not register on-line were able to obtain the mask from designated collection points.