Face masks: Tampere Region is reacting quickly to COVID-19 needs13.5.2020
When COVID-19 crisis needs all hands on deck, companies in the Tampere Region in Finland do not hesitate to act. The demand for face masks is a prime example: our businesses are providing various solutions and developing them even further – based on local expertise and networks.
Ahlstrom-Munksjö is a global leader in fiber-based materials. The main product of their Tampere plant is filtration materials for industrial use, where the demand is not really affected by the coronavirus crisis.
This year, there has been an increasing amount of enquiries for face mask materials. Ahlstrom-Munksjö decided that although the order book is healthy, it is their social responsibility to provide the material. They put it into product development in late February and announced production expansions in April.
The Ahlstrom-Munksjö product development in Tampere is very close to reaching the surgical mask requirements and keeps working on it. Already the plant is producing filtration material that is suited for lighter face masks, those that are used in service occupations, institutional care or by citizens.
– The idea is that when there are reasonably good and approved masks for consumer use, then surgical grade products will be better available in healthcare where the need for them is highest, says Sales Manager Otto Kivi.
Mask manufacturing in Tampere
The Ahlstrom-Munksjö Tampere plant can deliver fabrics for around 10 million face masks per month, with the potential to increase the amount substantially. Some of the material is processed further locally, for example by Tampere-based companies Scanpoint Oy ja Domino Workwear Oy.
– We produce Finnish professional workwear for pharmacies, medical centres and laboratories etc. When the Ahlstrom-Munksjö material became available, we added face masks to our selection. So far we’ve sold them for our current customers, but we have manufacturing capacity for more, says Scanpoint CEO Pia Kivijärvi.
– It is great that local businesses can adapt to the crisis. Of course, local materials will also expedite the production of final goods. When Finns can protect themselves better against the virus, it is safer to ease the restrictions, says Domino Workwear CEO Arto Pitkänen.
For further information: Companies providing healthcare solutions and protective gear in the Tampere Region.
Alfa Wear activated networks for face mask production
As the demand for face masks started to increase, Alfa Wear reacted quickly. The company focuses on textiles and workwear for healthcare and food industry clothing. Face masks were a logical next step.
– We’ve already supplied large amounts of fabric face masks in Finland, mainly for Hospitals Districts, hospital laundries and municipalities, but also for pharmacies and cleaning services, says Alfa Wear CEO Matti Haikka.
Alfa Wear is a small company based in Orivesi, and it has a remarkable partner network. CEO Haikka has a long experience, good contacts and networks in textiles and clothing industry. He is a shareholder in Sia A.T.J.-Production Latvia clothing company, and manufacturing capacity in the Baltics has proved worthwhile in the current situation.
– I’ve always taken care of the upstream in supply chain and it pays off now. We have a good mask model, a material developed for healthcare usage and skillful mask makers, says Haikka.
Nevil knits seamless face masks
Nevil Oy manufactures knitted accessories, mainly caps, in Tampere. In normal circumstances they would be busy making sports fan products, but as all sports events were cancelled because of coronavirus restrictions, so were the product orders. Pre-ordering for autumn sales has been very slow this year.
– Nevil is a family business about to go into a third generation. We’ve never been in a situation like this, says Nevil CEO Risto Viljanen.
Face masks are one of the opportunities in corona times. Viljanen decided to give them a try and programmed their knitting machines to make cup-shaped, seamless masks. After adding the straps with a couple of stitches, a face mask is ready.
– We are using polypropylene, a material that allows evaporation of humidity from exhaled breath, unlike cotton. It is also easy to knit patterns and logos, and that has already raised some positive attention, says Viljanen.CVI
Companies in the Tampere region are providing healthcare solutions and protective gear to fight the COVID-19
The global COVID-19 pandemic is causing a strong demand for various health technologies and solutions. Business Tampere, the Tampere region economic development agency, collects a comprehensive list of local companies providing healthcare solutions and protective gear to the global crisis caused by the coronavirus. Tap to the provider list.
To get an overview of the entire Tampere health and life sciences offering, see tamperehealth.com, and contact our business advisors at Business Tampere for a more thorough introduction.