Imagine a mask that allows you to speak intelligibly without yelling. Better still, a mask that provides optimal protection for the wearer and his or her entourage, which you can wear in the office without taking breaks in the restroom to breathe. Well researchers from the USA's Georgia Institute of Technology may have just what you need.
Longstanding specialists in the fields of textiles and filtration, the engineers at Georgia Tech have developed a prototype for a washable mask that makes use of high-tech fabrics similar to those used for the production of sportswear.
"If we want to reopen the economy and ask people to go back to work, we need a mask that is both comfortable and effective," explains Sundaresan Jayaraman, a professor in Georgia Tech's School of Materials Science and Engineering, who took part in the project described in The Journal of The Textile Institute.
In order to address the problem of air leaking around the edges, which is often a problem with cloth masks, the researchers came up with a two-part mask, which fastens around the head. The front part, which acts as a barrier and contains a pocket for a supplementary filter, is made from moisture-wicking material and is designed to fit tightly while still allowing space in front of the nose of mouth.
The second part, which holds the front part in place, is made from stretchable material. After 20 washes, the prototypes had not shrunk or lost their shape, point out the researchers.
"Masks have become an essential accessory in our wardrobe and add a social dimension to how we feel about wearing them. So, the materials chosen for the mask come in a variety of colors and designs. Integrating form and function is key to having a mask that protects individuals while making them look good and feel less self-conscious," explained Sungmee Park, a Georgia Tech engineer who worked with Sundaresan Jayaraman to develop the mask.
Jayaraman and Park have published specifications and patterns for their mask so that they can be produced by manufacturers and individuals.