Containerised factories could reduce face mask shortages

Mikron and Festo have partnered on the development of containerised factories that can produce 50-100 face masks per minute.

Designed to be set up at places like businesses and healthcare centres, the mini factory took six weeks to develop with support from Festo and could close the gap between point of manufacture and point of consumption.


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“Normally you’d need six months for systems of this size, but this is time we don’t have during the current coronavirus pandemic,” said Nils Rödel, General Manager of Mikron Berlin. “So, 20 of our designers and fitters spent a week concentrating fully on this project and came up with a 3D model as the basis for this scalable system.”

Mikron’s system fits in a 20-foot shipping container, which can also act as a clean room. According to Mikron, the integrated air-conditioning system with air purification filters means that production is possible in places with high risk of viral contamination.

containerised factories
Mikron’s system for producing 50-100 protective masks a minute (Image: Festo)

Once up and running Mikron said it is possible to produce two million protective mouth-nose masks each month with one system. The masks are based on meltblown non-woven fabric which is made up of many layers of fine fibres that filter out fine particles including bacteria and viruses. Depending on the raw materials, the system can operate autonomously for more than two hours, thereby reducing the number of people required, which reduces the risk of infection.

The Mikron team overcame commissioning challenges brought about by travel restrictions with the use of HoloLens, which allowed commissioning to be done virtually with an interactive 3D projection.