Iconic coffee filter maker Melitta has begun producing masks at its factory in Minden, Germany.
The Melitta Group said it produced the first million masks last week, and production could reach up to a million masks per day “in the near future” for as long as materials and demand last.
“With our production capacities, we are able to manufacture considerable quantities of face masks in a very short time,” Jero Bentz, a member of the Melitta Group’s Chief Corporate Management said in an April 9 announcement from the company. “For decades, our company has specialized in the development and production of filter materials such as coffee filters, vacuum cleaner bags and other industrial specialty papers such as non-woven wallpaper and raw materials for air filters — including for the medical sector.”
Coffee filters have become a popular makeshift material for an extra filtering layer in homemade protective face masks amidst the spread of COVID-19, although the CDC has not provided any specific guidance on the use of coffee filters.
Melitta warned against using its own coffee filters as protective masks earlier this month, noting that they are too porous to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
However, late last week the company said it had on short notice begun production of masks that are shaped like the classic Melitta cone filter while using different and more effective filtering materials. The masks are designed to cover the nose and mouth area with an adjustable clip-on tie.
“The result is a face mask, shaped like our coffee filters, with very good filtration, breathing and wearing characteristics,” the company said. “It consists of a three-layer non-woven material and includes a melt-blown layer that meets the standard for surgical masks according to EN14683 with a Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE) > 95%. In the first stage, these masks are fastened with a clip or elastic bands. It is planned to further develop the masks in the next stages — the production of FFP2 and FFP3 masks is also in development.”
Melitta is distributing the first of its mass-produced masks to employees while donating 1 million masks to healthcare facilities through government consultation. The company said it is also exploring converting other Melitta factories in the United States and Brazil for mass production and in-country distribution.
Said Bentz, “We are convinced that in terms of quality and quantity together with quick availability, we can make a significant contribution to people’s health and to alleviating the restrictions caused by the corona epidemic.”