New breathable, reusable masks fill the gap between uncomfortable disposable masks and high-demand N95s
A new line of face masks combining comfort with protection is available from Acteev™ by Ascend Performance Materials, a manufacturer of technology-forward textiles and engineered materials. The brand’s first product, the Acteev Protect™ Nonwoven Mask, is a reusable general purpose mask that features powerful built-in antimicrobial technology to protect the mask from odor-causing bacteria and mold fungi in a soft, breathable, comfortable fabric that is gentle on the skin.
The mask is the first in a series of planned Acteev product introductions that will include a knit fabric mask and a sports gaiter. The company also announced it is designing an N95 respirator and a line of surgical masks and is developing more engineering plastics solutions for high-touch surfaces such as light switches and tray tables; textiles for use in scrubs and hospital gowns; and nonwoven fibers and rolled goods for use in applications such as filtration systems.
The expansion into masks is a natural extension for Ascend, which is the largest producer of nylon 6,6 resin in the world, said Lu Zhang, Ph.D., who joined Ascend earlier this year as vice president and leader of the Acteev business. “The nylon Ascend makes is durable enough to be used under the hood of a car, but when it’s spun into fibers, it can be woven or knitted into fabrics that are soft and silky,” she said. “Combined with our antimicrobial Acteev technology, our fabric makes an Acteev Protect Nonwoven Mask more breathable, more comfortable and more wearable than anything else we’ve encountered in the market.”
The Acteev Protect Nonwoven Mask is an ideal choice for anyone seeking better protection, comfort and breathability than a typical blue mask and better availability than an N95 respirator, which are reserved for health care workers, Zhang said.
“Masks only inhibit the spread if they’re worn – that’s why comfort and breathability are so important,” Zhang said. “As we send our kids back to school, return to the workplace, resume shopping and otherwise get back to normal life, we need an option that is long-lasting and wearable for hours.
“They’re great for teachers, restaurant staff, transportation workers, industrial personnel and anyone whose lifestyle takes them out of their homes and into the world,” Zhang said.
Darayus Pardivala, the president of the Americas division of Sulzer Rotating Equipment Services, purchased the masks for employees at all 32 of the company’s locations in North and South America. “They’re much easier to breathe through compared to what we had in the past, there’s an added level of protection and our employees are much more comfortable,” Pardivala said. “The pushback we had in the past about wearing masks is completely gone.”
Recent testing on the knit fabric completed at the University of Cambridge has demonstrated that Acteev technology deactivates the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, with 99.9% efficacy on contact1. Ascend is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other governmental agencies to obtain the appropriate regulatory clearances to make specific claims regarding the technology’s antiviral properties.
Acteev Protect Nonwoven Masks are made with Acteev™ technology with active zinc ions in a polymer matrix to destroy microbes.
“Acteev’s active layer of defense uses safe, environmentally friendly active zinc ions embedded into the matrix of the polymer – not a chemical spray that will wash away or flake off – meaning these masks can be used again and again,” said Phil McDivitt, CEO of Ascend.
The Acteev Protect Nonwoven Masks are constructed with three layers of zinc-embedded materials.
“Our scientists and engineers invented a process for creating a revolutionary new fabric that checks all the boxes,” McDivitt said. “Acteev™ fabric is soft to the touch and moisture-wicking to keep the face cool, and it’s more breathable than other materials used in masks.”