The Glue Talk Blog

Filtering with Masks

Fighting COVID-19 with Filtration

Posted 28 Apr 2020 by Kevin Schneider, Business Leader, Global Membrane Separation
From simple face masks to complicated membranes used to develop vaccines, filtration is a critical component in the medical industry — an essential part in keeping people safe and in creating the solutions that save lives. Learn more about how filtration systems are being used to slow the spread of COVID-19 and the part adhesives play in making this possible. 

Filtering with Masks

For the case of COVID-19, effective masks are incredibly important. COVID-19 is primarily spread person-to-person through coughing, sneezing and even talking. This makes social distancing the best protection from catching the virus; however, when staying isolated isn’t an option, it’s important to wear a face mask — the next most effective method. Medical and industrial face masks are designed to stop the wearer from inhaling or spreading droplets, lessening the spread for people who need to interact with others. With each mask, though, comes an entire manufacturing process that went into making it.
These masks can be as complex as N-95 masks or as simple as paper held to the face with elastic loops. Regardless of the type and use, masks produced in bulk require adhesives to bond them and to prevent premature breakdown – the nose clamp needs to stay bonded to the mask, and elastic straps must stay secured for hours of use. Choosing the right adhesive also aids in manufacturing speed and ease, bonding the units quickly to increase overall production quantity. At H.B. Fuller, we create hot melt agents designed specifically to bind elastic and metal to paper, as well as in a form that’s easy to incorporate into workflows. 

Filtering Membranes 

Due to COVID-19, biopharma companies are relying on advanced filtration solutions to both keep patients alive and to create a vaccine. Filtration machinery is used as a critical method for keeping at-risk patients in ICUs alive and continues to provide the precision needed to complete accurate blood testing and diafiltration used in medical R&D. Filtration membranes create a needed barrier, which is fine enough to filter out unwanted (or wanted) particles. Here are some examples of ways that membranes are being incorporated by medical professionals: 
  • Blood Oxygenation Machines – Blood oxygenation machines are vital in intensive care units, using membranes to filter blood, removing carbon dioxide and enriching with oxygen, and helping people with failing kidneys stay alive. With COVID-19, patients with preexisting conditions need to be particularly careful and require reliable machinery to keep their immune systems in check. 
  • Blood Testing – Harvesting cells is essential to researching and testing blood samples, and filtration makes clarifying samples possible. 
  • Diafiltration Machines – Diafiltration uses engineered membranes to filter out micro-molecules for obtaining a pure solution. These membranes are useful to scientists at the forefront of finding and manufacturing vaccines, allowing them to break down and tweak formulas. 
Though extremely powerful and useful, filtering membranes require housing units to hold them in place and protect them. Each membrane housing unit utilizes an adhesive to bond the membrane in place, giving a long-lasting bond that can withstand reuse, sterilization, and individualized challenges. At H.B. Fuller, we continue to work with medical manufacturers to create the agents and systems needed to manufacture the filtration devices necessary amidst the current pandemic. 

The H.B. Fuller Difference

At H.B. Fuller, our teams have been working with medical manufacturers for decades. Our proven expertise and proper certifications, coupled with our global reach and expertise, allows us to provide cutting-edge adhesives for existing and new applications that span the entire manufacturing process. We also work with medical devices manufacturers to analyze their entire process, identifying ways to reduce adhesive and recycling costs, and lower scrap rates. Contact us to discuss your specific filtration needs. 

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