“We are currently running around the clock on two machines and the new capacity in Neenah (WI) will be five times higher,” says Biax-Fiberfilm President Douglas Brown. “The purchase of a former Kimberly-Clark facility in Neenah allows us additional space, plus some of the common machine parts (usually long lead-time pieces) that will assist with our fast scale-up. The plant will be a mix between old and new technology developed by Biax-Fiberfilm."
The company expects its production startup at the new facility as early as June. With Brown’s patented technology and association with the world’s premier equipment supplier, Reifenhauser, the transition is expected to be a smooth one. Three 60-in.-wide production lines are planned. The nonwoven melt-blown fabric and a patented spun-blown system that produces fabrics that few others in the world can create are currently being produced at the Greenville headquarters palms. It is enough for about 3.5 million masks per day.
These complicated nonwovens fabrics consist of synthetic fibers stretched in an airstream and flattened into rolls for mask production. Exacting standards must be met, and quality controls are part of the process. “Our materials have been used in masks, physicians’ PPE and in the filtration industry,” says Brown. “A key is the breathable, yet tight ‘knit’ result that keeps out the virus.”
Mask manufacturers and medical products converters in Wisconsin are part of supply pipeline and further conversion into products. A recent industry call initiated by Masood Akhtar and Susan Stansbury of Cleantech Partners between healthcare converter-manufacturers, WI Governor Tony Evers, US Senator Tammy Baldwin's associates and the WEDC (Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.) has led to new potential collaborations in the state. According to John Michaud of American Custom Converting, Green Bay, (WI), a meeting between the companies is imminent.
Says Kirk Ryan, president/CEO of Little Rapids Corp. and its Graham Medical Division in Green Bay, "Many key materials come from overseas, and I am happy to see innovation and investment happening in the Fox River Valley, particularly as we are expanding our facemask and PPE capabilities in Green Bay."
More info: Biax-Fiberfilm at 920-757-9000; www.SusanStansbury.com or 920-264-6407