NEUMÜNSTER, Germany/BRISBANE & QUEENSLAND, Australia — OZ Health Plus will establish Australia’s first manufacturing plant to make the critical fine plastic material used in most protective face masks. OZ Health Plus has purchased a plant from Switzerland-based technology company Oerlikon to establish a Queensland-based production plant for spunbond and meltblown nonwovens. These fabrics are essential for Australia’s face mask manufacturers, who currently produce about 500 million medical and industrial masks per year. However the fabrics have to be imported from overseas and access to these materials has been severely disrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oerlikon’s Germany-based business unit Oerlikon Nonwoven has now executed legal and commercial arrangements to supply the specialized machinery which can manufacture the nonwoven material locally. The same machinery is used to make almost all face masks material manufactured in Europe. The Oz Health meltblown plant will commence operations in April next year, with a second stage planned for late 2021.
The Oerlikon Nonwoven plant can produce meltblown fabrics for 500 million masks per year, along with other medical and non-medical grade products, filtration products, sanitary items, antiseptic wipes and more. Rainer Straub, head of Oerlikon Nonwoven said: “We are very proud that we can now for the first time supply our Oerlikon Nonwoven meltblown technology to Australia. Due to the short delivery time, we hope to make our contribution to the Australian population and their safe sup-ply of high-quality protective masks as soon as possible.”
OZ Health Plus director Darren Fooks said: “Australia has access to raw polypropylene feedstock but lacks the plant to convert that raw material to specialized spunbond and meltblown fabrics. These fabrics are essential for local mask manufacturing. The Australian-based Oerlikon Nonwoven plant will fill the production chain gap for Australia by producing the fabrics we need for mask production and many other products — it will reduce Australia’s protective mask supply chain from thousands of kilometers, to tens of kilometers.”
“Our decision in favor of Oerlikon Nonwoven was a given once we had analyzed the material samples. It was a matter of course for us that the Business Unit of the Oerlikon Manmade Fibers segment could supply high-quality machines and systems,” Fooks added.
OZ Health Plus’ new facilities will take up 15,000 square meters of manufacturing space and will employ 100 full-time roles once the second stage of the project is complete. OZ Health Plus continues to work with both Queensland and Federal Government stakeholders and values their support in bringing this vital capability to Queensland.
Posted July 7, 2020
Source: Oerlikon Nonwoven