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How Medanta And Pihlajalinna Developed A High-Quality Face Mask

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A face mask made of microfibre with a protection level equal to that of work clothes for healthcare professionals.

Medanta has developed a durable face mask in cooperation with Pihlajalinna, a provider of healthcare services. The mask increases the safety of both healthcare professionals and customers.

When the first concerning news about the spread of the coronavirus pandemic came from China, Medanta and Pihlajalinna decided to develop a high-quality, durable face mask for professionals. Medanta manufactures work clothes for healthcare professionals, and Pihlajalinna is a private provider of social welfare and healthcare services.

“There were strong signs of the coronavirus reaching Finland, and I became worried about the availability of protective equipment. If all healthcare professionals had protected themselves with commonly used disposable surgical masks, we would have run out of masks in an instant and their price levels would have risen exponentially around the world, because the market was going completely wild,” says Henna Rantanen, Procurement Manager at Pihlajalinna.

In February 2020, Rantanen contacted Medanta and suggested that the two companies join forces. Medanta is Pihlajalinna’s long-term partner and has designed Pihlajalinna’s work and patient clothes.

“We were able to start our cooperation project rapidly. Our goal was to create a multipurpose face mask that combined high quality and design with safety and cost-effectiveness. We also wanted to start production and make the face mask available rapidly,” says Rantanen.

The result was a face mask made from a flexible two-ply antimicrobial material that fits snugly but comfortably around the mouth and nose.

A mask designed by professionals that meets the quality criteria

Medanta specialises in antimicrobial and technical fabrics for its work and patient clothes. Medanta Microfiber, a fabric with proven antimicrobial properties, was selected as the material for the face mask.

“The protection level provided by the mask is equal to that of healthcare work clothes,” says Anu Kivelä, CEO of Medanta. “The face mask has been designed to improve the safety of both healthcare professionals and customers. Our antimicrobial technology forms a film on the surface of the fabric: the two-ply microfibre material is dense and flexible, meaning that droplets don’t penetrate it easily.”

“Our face mask replaces disposable masks,” says Anu Kivelä, CEO of Medanta.

The quality of the professional face mask meets the requirements of the regulations on protective equipment. The professionals who participated in designing the face mask also included hygiene nurses, who tested the prototype.

“Our durable mask has been designed by true professionals. Thanks to the metallic nose part, the mask always fits snugly on the face. It’s easy to wear glasses or goggles with the mask. In care services, for example, the mask effectively protects the health of the caregivers and the elderly. The mask also reduces the user’s hand-to-face contact rate,” Rantanen explains.

According to Rantanen, the purpose of the joint effort was to create a sustainable and long-lasting product that can also be used after the coronavirus pandemic during seasonal flu epidemics.

“In terms of design, the mask needed to look professional. A professional face mask cannot just be any piece of fabric, and it must not scare the elderly.”

The first face masks were deployed in April

The antimicrobial face mask is disinfected in a 90-degree wash, which makes it microbiologically clean. The material withstands repeated industrial washing and thermal disinfection well.

The first face masks were delivered to Pihlajalinna in April. Initially, the company acquired 5,000 masks.

“Our home care employees use a new mask with each customer. The masks are washed safely after the working day, and clean masks are available on the next day,” Rantanen explains.

Teija Kulmala, Chief Operating Officer of Pihlajalinna, says that the cooperation is an excellent example of how private Finnish companies can rapidly prepare for protection issues.

“Our cooperation with Medanta shows how private, quick and highly responsive product development works at its best,” say Teija Kulmala (left), Chief Operating Officer of Pihlajalinna, and Henna Rantanen, Procurement Manager at Pihlajalinna.

Pihlajalinna has home care and assisted living services customers across Finland.

“At the beginning of the year, we calculated that our nurses will use thousands of disposable face masks per week if the coronavirus spreads widely in Finland. It was clear that there wouldn’t be enough face masks without precautionary measures. In addition, the use of disposable masks to this extent is expensive and not ecological,” says Kulmala.

A reliable partner factory in production

According to Kulmala, the coronavirus crisis doesn’t differentiate between private and public operators – everyone must help each other to overcome the pandemic.

“Our cooperation with Medanta is a good example of how private, quick and highly responsive product development can be useful in small but extremely important ways.”

Medanta manufactures face masks in Finland’s neighbouring countries and at a partner factory in China.

“Medanta has a representative on-site in China at all times. The quality standards of the factory are high and have been tested many times. We have a strong mutual trust based on ten years of cooperation.”