Imagine a reusable face mask that protects wearers and those around them from virus, and stays in place without frequent adjustment.
Based on decades of experience with textile materials and filtration, researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology in the US have designed a new mask intended to do just that—and are providing the plans so manufacturers can make it.
“If we want to reopen the economy and ask people to go back to work, we need a mask that is both comfortable and effective,” Sundaresan Jayaraman, professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Materials Science and Engineering, told AFP.
The novel mask, called modular Georgia Tech mask, combines a filtration material with a stretchable fabric to hold it in place.
According to their study, prototypes of the mask made for testing use hook and eye fasteners on the back of the head to keep the masks on, and include a pocket for an optional filter to increase protection.
Jayaraman and his colleague Sungmee Park said the major flaw in existing reusable cloth masks is that they peak air around the edges, bypassing their filtration mechanism. They said this potentially allows viruses, both smaller aerosols and large droplets, to enter the air breathed in by users.
In order to address this issue, the researchers came up with a two-part mask, which fastens around the head. The front part, which acts as a barrier, is contoured to fit tightly while still allowing space to breathe. It is also made from moisture-wicking material used in athletic clothing.
Meanwhile, the second part, which holds the front part in place, is made from stretchable materials like polyester and Spandex. After 20 washes, researchers point out that the prototypes have not shrunk or lost their shape.
“We have taken a science-based approach to designing a better mask and we are very passionate about getting this out so people can use it to help protect themselves and others from harm,” added Jayaraman.