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Medical Fabrics Firms in Heart of Key Supply Chain Battling Coronavirus

U.S. textile companies that specialize in fabrics and materials for the medical industry find themselves in the middle of the crucial supply chain battling the coronavirus pandemic.

Burlington Barrier Fabrics, a division of the Burlington Industries unit of Elevate Textiles, has increased production of its Maxima Medical Barrier collection in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Burlington, also known for its apparel fabrics, has been in the medical business for 40 years manufacturing fabrics for use in operating theaters such as surgeon’s gowns, isolation gowns, sterilization wrapper packs, drapes, scrubs and lab coats. The Maxima collection of fabrics is the standard in the industry for reusable isolation and surgical gowns, limiting the environmental impact of these garments and textiles.

A global collection, Maxima is sold in Europe and the United States, meeting all appreciate certifications. The line of reusable, fluid resistant surgical fabrics is engineered for top-of-the-line performance and safety.

“Our commitment to the protection of our first responders and healthcare professionals is our top priority during this global crisis,” Allen Smith, president of Burlington’s Safety Components & A&E Americas division, said. “We have increased production of our Maxima Medical Barrier fabrics and are partnering with organizations across the industry to supply those on the front lines with the personal protective equipment needed to keep them safe amidst this outbreak. We appreciate the commitment and dedication of our workforce in Burlington plants in the USA and China to supply these fabrics to support the global fight against COVID-19.”

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The traditional apparel supply chain is shifting to realign manufacturing capabilities to help meet the critical demands of our medical professionals on the front lines, Nelson Bebo, vice president of sales at Burlington Barrier Fabrics, said.  This has included many apparel and textile factories moving at least part of their production to manufacturing personal protective equipment (PPE).

“We have reallocated resources to support the evolving industry landscape and provide Maxima products to key retail, brand and governmental partners,” Bebo said.

Bolger & O’Hearn’s (B&O) Fall River, Mass., R&D labs and manufacturing facilities are considered essential operations and remain open and focused on supplying brands and textile manufacturers with the chemistries they need to make (PPE) and other textile end products essential to fight the coronavirus.

Chemistries manufactured by B&O include specialty coatings formulated specifically for the medical, military and personal care industries. End products include masks, lab coats, surgical gowns, medical drapes, high-performance rain-proof tenting and many other products needed now to combat the virus.

B&O also operates within the U.S. Departments of Defense and Homeland Security’s Defense Industrial Base Essential Critical Infrastructure, which directs companies and their suppliers in that base to maintain full operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. B&O is serving numerous companies that make military apparel and gear or fabrics for the military and medical markets.

During this crisis, “we will stay open and proactive to keep our employees safe and maintain operations as we work with our country to help stop the spread of this disease,” Mohan Rao, technology director for textile innovations at B&O, said.

Bolger & O’Hearn noted that as a Bluesign system partner, it’s known for developing chemical products based on environmentally compliant materials and technologies. Most of its chemistries are water-based, and Boger & O’Hearn strives to continually improve the health, safety and environmental profiles of the chemistries they develop.

Committed to a zero-carbon future, B&O currently produces its products using renewable energy. The solar voltaic array on its facilities allow it to displace more than 100,000 pounds of carbon each year.

Nylon manufacturer Nilit said it is filling customer orders for existing programs and providing additional nylon 6.6 product to programs related to medical garments.

“We have seen increased interest in products including our BodyFresh for PPE such as reusable protective gowns, washable masks and other protective apparel for health care applications,” Sagee Aran, head of Nilit marketing, said. “Nylon 6.6 is an excellent fiber for strong, lightweight fabrics with compact constructions.”