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A visit to the CuMask+ face production workshop
Source:Adsale Plastics Network     Author:Chun Cheng    Date:11.May.2020

The Hong Kong SAR Government has announced to distribute free reusable CuMask+ face mask to all Hong Kong citizens. CPRJ visited the production workshop, which is responsible for sterilizing and packaging, of the reusable masks.


The CuMask+ face mask was developed by The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles & Apparel (HKRITA). It is made of six layers of functional materials, the anti-microbial layer of which is specially made with small quantities of copper to immobilize bacteria and common viruses.


The mask is effective for 60 washes. After that, it can continue to be used by replacing the filter.


Masks sterilized with ozone


The CuMask+ face masks are sterilized before distribution, and the packaging is processed in certified clean room environment.


What makes the sterilization of the CuMask+ face masks different from other masks is the sterilization process. HKRITA is not using the electron beam radiation technology commonly used in the market to sterilize face masks, but using ozone instead.


According to John Leung, Research Manager at HKRITA, as the giveaway CuMask+ face mask has layers with micro-copper as the ingredient, using electron beam radiation for sterilization may affect the performance of filtration.  


The four ozone sterilization machines operating in the production workshop is actually the equipment of a textile recycling system which was developed by HKRITA and partners two years ago.


After being sterilized by ozone for about one hour, the masks will be sent to a clean room for packaging by a conveyor belt.


Packaging in clean room meeting ISO standard


The clean room for packaging the CuMask+ face masks is a positive pressure control environment. When the door is opened, dust will not be blown into the room to ensure that the packaging environment will not be polluted by outside air.


The air changes per hour for the clean room are 15 air changes. Air cleanliness is achieved by passing the air through HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters and UV disinfection lamps, meeting the ISO 8 class clean room standard, explained John Leung.


ISO14644-1 is one of the most used standards in medical controlled environments, which specifies classes of air cleanliness in terms of the number of particles expressed as a concentration in air volume.


This standard includes the cleanroom classes ISO 1, ISO 2, ISO 3, ISO 4, ISO 5, ISO 6, ISO 7, ISO 8 and ISO 9, with ISO 1 being the “cleanest” and the most common classes are ISO 7 and ISO 8.


In addition, standard PPE for entering the clean room includes hair net, face mask, nitrile gloves, protective gown and shoe cover.


Two shifts of about 34 packaging workers at the workshop can pack about 80,000 masks working for 16 hours per day.


Anti-microbial layer with micro-copper


The CuMask+ face mask was modified based on HKRITA’s previous design awarded at the International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva 2018.


Compared with the previous design, one of the main differences is that the magnetic field implanted to provide effective filtering function was replaced by adding micro-copper for immobilizing bacteria, common viruses and other harmful substances.


HKRITA said the CuMask+ face mask has an anti-microbial layer with micro-copper as the active ingredient, and the micro-copper is larger than 1 micron. Between this anti-microbial layer and the user's face are three layers of fabric, i.e. the filtration layer (which can filter out particles larger than 0.1 micron), protective layer and skin-comfort layer. Therefore micro-copper cannot be inhaled by the user.


HKRITA also emphasized that micro-copper is over 1000 times larger than nano-copper, and there is no nano-copper on the anti-microbial layer.



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