Two Japanese companies TBM and Bioworks launched a greener facemask produced based on PLA (polylactic acid) yarn, a biomass-based material made from corn starch. These washable and reusable masks are inherently designed to improve the carbon footprint. The 3D knitted facemasks which are called Bio Face are made with the collaboration of Shima Seiki, a leading manufacturer of flat knitting machines.
Describing the present predicament of the disposable facemasks and their dark impact on the environment, Nobuyoshi Yamasaki, the CEO of TBM said in a press release “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.”
Therefore, by supplying a greener facemask to the COVID-19 affected regions and the developing countries, they are striving to “protect people around the world from the risk of infection, and protect the global environment.”
Collaboration with Shima Seiki enabled them to achieve a mask design that is comfortable and easily fits the shape of a face. The three parties developed the design by knitting masks three dimensionally with the Shima’s WHOLEGARMENT technology with PLA yarns.
The salient features of the masks are very impressive. Wearing the masks can help to prevent spray from coughing and sneezing and can also reduce exposure to various allergens. They can be washed around 30 times and reused. Bio Face masks have been reported to be antibacterial and mildly acidic (close to human skin) by Nissenken Quality Evaluation Center, a Japanese testing laboratory.
And lastly, their 3D knit shape enables the masks to be comfortable which fit the shape of a face and leave room around the mouth.
Bio Face masks can be equipped with commercially available virus filters, cotton gauze, and similar accessories.
In the press release, TBM and Bioworks expressed their desire to expand their business in and outside Japan from June 2020. The partners have started accepting pre-orders for Bio Face masks from 27 April, 2020.