French software developer Caldera has announced a new initiative that will help furnish the increasing demand for face masks for private individuals, while at the same time supporting their printing clients during a difficult time for businesses. Based on their successful SportsFactory concept which launched at FESPA Berlin 2018, the MaskFactory micro-factory platform will allow consumers to design personalised masks, which will then be manufactured to French AFNOR norms and dispatched to them.

Face masks have become a common sight in our everyday lives. Face coverings are available in a variety of materials and styles such as face shields. They are slowly conquering the world of fashion, too. "To enable our customers to send out a promotional message with face coverings, we have added various face mask styles to our product range that can be custom printed," says Christian Würst, Chief Commercial Officer of Onlineprinters. The company sells printed products such as flyers, posters, brochures, business cards, exhibition systems and promotional items, including face masks over its online shops to customers throughout Europe.

The world now accepts the reality of wearing face masks and coverings. This will be part of our daily lives for the foreseeable future. As expected the immediate demand for mask personalisation and design decoration has dramatically escalated over the past few weeks. This will continue to do so for many years to come. Currently there appears to be a vast range of options, materials and styles. Together with various claims relating to specification and personal safety.

Cotswold Printing Company, a family owned business specialising in wide format printing, is using Canon’s Clear Display Film to produce disposable PPE face masks for local NHS staff, with 25 volunteers working to produce the equipment.

With the help of Mimaki technology, Fancy Armor established itself as a creative, pioneering business of customised luggage wear and has recently shifted its capacity to producing essential travel accessories in today’s changing world.

Many manufacturing companies have decided to convert production to contribute to addressing the COVID-19 crisis. In the textile sector in particular, print service providers have started producing masks and other kinds of facial protection, due to the sudden surge in demand and limited supply.

Mondi, global leader in packaging and paper, is set to build new production lines in its plant in Gronau, Germany, to produce melt blown nonwoven fabric and surgical face masks. This is part of Mondi's efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and respond to increased demand by health authorities, businesses and consumers for face masks.

Coupling a budget-priced desktop printer with a small-format digital cutter and specialist heat transfer media supplied by Graphtec GB has provided a genuinely low-cost print and cut solution for the decoration and/or commercial branding of face masks and associated safety equipment employed in the fight against the current coronavirus pandemic. Available at an enticingly low price point of around £350, the Silhouette range of cutters has long been a preferred entry-level option for small start-up companies, many of which have been engaging with the PPE-related initiative whilst contemporaneously introducing a vital source of revenue during the current difficult business climate.

Seiko Epson Corporation (TSE: 6724, “Epson”) will apply its original Dry Fibre technology to manufacture face masks for its employees in Japan. Dry Fibre technology, which is also used in Epson’s PaperLab A-8000 in-office dry paper making system, is a dry process that has until now been used to turn used paper into new paper inside the office. The masks will be made not from used paper, but from functional fibres and will be manufactured at the company’s Kanbayashi and Suwa Minami Plants in Nagano, Japan, where the majority of its domestic employees are located. Epson expects to begin manufacturing the masks from the end of May. The company does not currently plan to manufacture the masks for sale.

Foticos is a Spanish company that has been operating in the photographic and printing sector since 1984. Today they are a staple in everything related to personalized products and gifts, from blankets to t-shirts or puzzles among many others.

In just two short weeks, Canon Solutions America, Inc.’s customer, Hatch Exhibits, went from operating as a full-service exhibit production shop in Maryland to a producer of protective face shields, disposable gowns, and touchless doorknobs to help those in their community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to Canon’s Colorado 1650, the MultiCam Celero 7, a Colex 10’ x 5’ Sharpcut, and Canon Solutions America’s support in sourcing other necessary materials, Hatch Exhibits has been able to quickly manufacture this gear to help create a safe workspace for its staff to continue with essential projects.

Antalis has launched a range of PPE solutions to protect people working in healthcare, retail, supermarkets, warehouses and other commercial environments from COVID-19. It supports the company’s full range of visual communication materials for use in the production of signage and for solutions such as protective screens, booths and sneeze guards.

In Germany the wearing of masks in public transport and supermarkets is mandatory.

As distributor for Fruit of the Loom in Thailand, Chaiyaboon Brothers has been using digital direct-to-garment (DTG) technology for more than a decade, most recently implementing the Kornit Avalanche HD6 system for industrial-scale decoration of short- and long-sleeve t-shirts. Currently, the business imprints 600-800 pieces for FOTL Thailand per day, most of them one piece per order. With print-on-demand capabilities, they ensure a consistent profit margin for these small orders.

With a large part of the global production of personal protective equipment (PPE) happening in the United States and China, much of Europe is experiencing a major PPE shortage, putting millions of lives at risk. In order to combat the shortage, the Professional Clothing Industry Association Worldwide (PCIAW) is partnering with Gerber Technology to make PPE more widely available. Through their PPE Task Force, Gerber has already helped over 1,200 manufacturers across the globe successfully convert their manufacturing capabilities to PPE production.

CMYUK has launched its Safer Spaces range, a collection of specialist products and materials designed to help jump-start the UK’s digital wide-format sector back to work.

HP Inc. together with its global network of print service providers (PSPs) continue to innovate printing applications to help medical teams, businesses and the public adapt in the ongoing effort to combat COVID-19.

CMYUK Textiles has secured a substantial UK stock provision of 300,000 non-permeable, protective healthcare gowns and 1.5m community grade facemasks per week.

A group of employees at Widd Signs, St Helens site have been doing their bit to support a local initiative aimed at producing much needed face masks for frontline NHS staff and care workers.

The Italian company, a specialist manufacturer of functional sportswear, conducted research and began producing masks in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Durst, manufacturer of advanced digital printing and production technologies, is now producing “community masks” in its demo center at the Brixen headquarters in South Tyrol, Italy. The masks are produced in the first step for employees of Durst Group and sister company Alupress and afterwards the production capacity will also be available for other companies. The know-how for the production of the “community masks” will be made available to interested print service providers worldwide through its branches.

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