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Reifenhäuser supplying nonwoven for masks in Germany

Apr '20
Pic: 	Reifenhäuser Reicofil
Pic: Reifenhäuser Reicofil
Reifenhäuser Reicofil has started supplying nonwoven fabric, produced in its R and D centre, to manufacturers of face masks in Germany. The material is also being supplied to public or charitable initiatives that manually produce masks for medical practitioners, hospitals and care services. However, the number of masks produced is much small than needed.

Reifenhäuser had announced the availability of the material weeks ago after no customers in Germany or Europe could be found for nonwoven produced by it. The demand for the material, however, now exceeds the production volume of the pilot lines many times over.

Dr. Bernd Kunze, managing director of Reifenhäuser Reicofil, explains: "Within the last two weeks, many initiatives have been founded that sew masks by hand. Thus, at least small production capacities have been established in Germany within a very short time, which now want to be supplied. From the many inquiries we have very consciously selected those initiatives that work efficiently and deliver masks quickly and reliably first to where they are most urgently needed."

For Reifenhäuser, however, the delivery to manually operating converters remains only a partial success. The quantities produced in this way are very small in view of the high demand for medical protective clothing. If general population is also to be supplied with masks nationwide, the demand would rise into the billions. To actually solve the problem, Germany and Europe therefore need their own industrial production sites with closed European supply chains and decisive political action. The aim must be to supply Europe with protective material independently and competitively, both now and in the long term.

Bernd Reifenhäuser, CEO of the Reifenhäuser Group, says: "We need a strategic production reserve for medical protective clothing in Europe. We have to quickly build up the machine capacity for the industrial production of masks in high volumes, but at the same time, the corresponding capacities for the production of the necessary high-quality nonwovens in Europe must be created. Otherwise, our dependence will remain at a crucial point in the supply chain. Other nations have recognised this, in some cases much earlier, and have already ordered equipment".

In order to accelerate the process in Germany, politicians have set up a programme to secure industrial investments through purchase and price commitments. This commitment will initially be valid until the end of 2021. Reifenhäuser considers the measure to be important and correct, but also sees the need for further fine-tuning.

Bernd Reifenhäuser says: "In our view, the duration of the programme should be extended. By the end of 2021, high-quality machines that we need to ensure quality and long-term international competitiveness will not have amortised. It would also be helpful to make a supplementary statement on the total annual demand for protective clothing, similar to what Macron has already done for France. We should definitely make use of possible synergies in Europe. All the core technologies and know-how to solve the problem together are available in Europe".

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (SV)

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