A couple of weeks ago the city of Deinze (Liebaert’s hometown) launched a campaign: “My face mask protects you, your face mask protects me”. The goal is to convince as many residents to wear a face mask . Only problem: there was/is a huge shortage…
“When the COVID-19 crisis broke out in mid-March, it became clear that there would be a huge shortage of face masks,” says Jan Vermeulen, Mayor of Deinze. “I immediately contacted Liebaert Textiles for assistance. Switching was fast and Liebaert produced a first prototype in just two days. ” Mathieu Liebaert adds: “For us it was important to come up with a solution that provided the best possible protection. We acquired information from health care professionals and medical textile experts concerning the requirements in order to design the right pattern and select the best fabrics. The face masks consist of three layers and they fit well on the face.
– The outer layer has a water repellent finish to make sure that the absorption of humid particles is reduced to a minimum.
– The middle layer was specifically selected to filter as much particles as possible.
– The inner layer is a special copper infused Nanostitch® fabric containing certified anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties called Nanostitch Cuprana
The mask’s design is based on existing products with the extra advantage of being machine-washable and therefore reusable. Due to the urgency of the situation our masks don’t have a CE certification, but they were tested on filtration according to EN ISO 16890-2 (2016) and had a Filter efficiency at 3 Micron of 97%. Liebaert Textiles has been transparent in communicating this to the organizations we’re delivering them to. They are primarily intended for people who work in the healthcare sector, but also for other essential professions such as the staff of our supermarkets and the police.
In order to produce the face-masks we had to revise our whole production process. “Protocols were written to ensure that the whole process runs as safely as possible” says Mathieu. “To meet the high demand, we had to postpone the production of RectoVerso’s second collection and bring together employees from all departments of the company. They are happy to contribute. The solidarity is great, many employees work overtime and help with production during their leave. In the meantime, there is also a collaboration with a local Industrial Laundry. They ensure that the masks are industrially washed and thus completely disinfected before they are packed.”
On March 19, the first masks were delivered to an institution for people with disabilities. In two weeks time, more than 5,000 pieces were produced and delivered to healthcare providers in the Deinze region, including all retirement homes. The production is full until the end of May with requests from all over Belgium and we are currently working on a new generation of masks in order to qualify for a CE certification.
Our thoughts are on the health and safety of our staff, customers, and communities. We know that it will take our collective efforts to minimise the impact of COVID-19.
We need to keep on working together and spread positivity during these harsh times.
We hope you will all stay safe and healthy!