People wearing masks? This has always been done by the tourists from Asia with their fear of … well, of what? Yes, masks are also worn when painting or doing dusty work, especially by people in hospitals and doctors’ practices. But a face mask in the supermarket or on the bus? Until a few days ago that was quite the exception in Germany.
However, this has changed after experts and even the German government urgently recommended the use of mouth and nose masks in public places in order to stop the further spread of the corona virus through unwanted droplet transmission. With the introduction of compulsory masks in some federal states and the urgent recommendation of the federal government to protect themselves and others, there is an enormous demand for mouth and nose protection. The Minister of Economics, Peter Altmaier, estimated the need at up to twelve billion protective masks per year. This is a huge market for everyday masks.
Medical respiratory protection masks (FFP2 or FFP3 masks) are still hardly available due to the worldwide pandemic. Hospitals and medical practices are struggling with shortages. However, simple face masks are also suitable for everyday use. Although they do not offer self-protection, they prevent others from being infected. Moreover, they can even be made by the patient themselves.
How? We wanted to know that too and found over 1.5 million entries in Google for the keyword “Sewing face mask yourself” and 4.7 million entries if you just enter the word “face mask”. Instructions for sewing your own face mask, purchase recommendations and much more can be found on the first pages. Self-stitching is not for everyone. For this reason, a press release from Onlineprinters has made us curious and inspired us to take a look at what the online printing community is up to in terms of coronavirus.
Making a contribution
In any event, Onlineprinters has converted part of its production in Neustadt an der Aisch to the production of face masks. In the large-format printing area, where flags, banners or coverings for trade fair systems are otherwise produced, the employees now sew face masks at one-minute intervals. Flyeralarm has also converted its cutting machines in its production facilities and has fully equipped its own sewing department for the production of masks.
“According to everything we hear from experts, wearing face masks helps to contain the spread of the corona virus. We have therefore decided to make a contribution to this and have started producing fabric masks,” explains Roland Keppler, CEO of the Onlineprinters Group. After a ten-day development period, the face masks are now available in the online shop.
Up to 10,000 units can be produced per week, but the online printing plant will expand capacity as needed. “The materials for this are already in stock,” confirms Keppler. “The first face masks were sent to our employees and their families. We are also making 10,000 pieces available for social or charitable institutions at our company sites in Neustadt an der Aisch and Fürth.”
The fabric masks from Onlineprinters (onlineprinters.de) are made of 240 g/m² polyester textile, are washable at 60° C and subsequently reusable, are offered in varying designs and can also be printed individually. You can order small and minimal amounts starting from 10 pieces and at a price of approximately 80 Euro to 166.00 Euro (including VAT) for individually printed masks.
Besides face masks, other products are already available such as stickers, stands or roll-up systems. However, other products are to be added to the range, including certified safety stickers, stands for hand disinfectants and Plexiglas walls. This is similar to Flyeralarm, where the range includes not only mouth-nose covers, which can also be customized, but also partition walls, room dividers, spitting protection, disinfecting and cleaning tissues, and instruction signs, etc.
“Necessity is the essence of invention – or enables us to expand our horizons. So, it is only logical that Onlineprinters, Flyeralarm, Picanova, Cimpress and Co. now rely on protective masks. Although this cannot compensate for the general decline in sales in print, the protective masks segment is booming and thus generating important and valuable sales. Delivery times are still problematic, but if the requirement of protective masks helps against the spread of the virus and at the same time saves jobs – everyone stands to benefit”. – Bernd Zipper.
Masks and Visors
In the meantime, several online printers offer masks or face visors that also cover the forehead and chin. We can also find them at Vistaprint, Picanova, Saxoprint, primusprint, Wir machen Druck or print4reseller. They all offer every day or disposable masks of varying types and qualities. The offer ranges from high-quality fabric masks in different designs to simple masks made of cardboard and paper.
All these protective masks are, to emphasize it once again, neither medical products nor protective equipment. The face masks are so-called “community masks”, which are used in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus. The effect of the community masks depends on the density of the material and the thickness of the masks. In addition, other filters such as paper tissues in special pockets can increase the effect. The masks made of 100% polyester can reduce the risk of transmitting pathogens to others, but do not provide protection against infection by themselves.
While fabric masks are offered by some online printers, Saxoprint and other printers take the more obvious route and print on cardboard or paper. Thus, Print4Reseller produces one-way masks from paper and Johnen Druck, from Bernkastel-Kues, has set up its own portal meinspuckschutz.de, on which customizable disposable masks made of cardboard, protective walls against spitting and hygiene stations for disinfection and mouth protection are offered. The hygiene station consists of 4 mm thick Alu Dibond in the format 600 x 1,350 mm, on which a dispenser holder for hand disinfection including an empty 500 ml bottle with dosing pump and a dispenser for the mentioned disposable masks are mounted.
Johnen’s approach is primarily intended for ” instant” and immediate use in supermarkets etc. and is a good idea – this way an entrepreneur can help his customers to protect themselves and others. The entrepreneurial spirit that Johnen displays is remarkable – it took barely ten days from product development, through the creation of the website, to the first delivery.
In addition to face visors (from 100 pieces at a price of 0.90 €), the Dresden company produces face masks made of 300 g/m² GC cardboard, which are available for as little as 0.08 € per piece – if you buy at least 5,000 pieces. Or 0.09 € for a purchase of 500 pieces. On request they are also available with imprint, but then in this case it is a minimum of 5,000 pieces for 0.29 € each. These masks are delivered flat with an elastic band. A paper handkerchief as filter is also required (not included in the price).
This is a rather adventurous-looking variation – and anything but pretty, if you can talk about it at all when it comes to masks. But it looks as if face masks – as in Asia – will be a permanent fixture on the streets of this country in the future. And there are those who believe that masks could be transformed more and more from a semi-medical product to a fashion accessory. According to some, people not only want to protect others with a mask, but also look good.
Brave as I am, I naturally started a self-experiment and tried out for myself the “spit protection” from Johnen, the mask from Onlineprinters and the mask from Flyeralarm. Well, we are far away from a “fashionable” accessory – but if it helps, one is not too good for anything. For zipcon consulting we have also decided to use reusable textile masks, which we will provide to our colleagues (yes, the ones in home office). Because health comes first, and we are happy that we have all so far been spared. We would like to keep it that way.