The melt-blown fabric is regarded as the heart of surgical masks and N95 healthcare masks and the producers of the non-wovens in general are found here and there across the country, but the melt-blown non-woven producers are not as many, they are largely concentrated in these important three provinces as in Jiangsu, accounting for 23.53%, in Zhejiang for 13.73%, in Henan for 11.76%, these three areas represent about half of the production in the particular sector of melt-blown fabric, and Hubei province is home to 2465 non-woven companies, the largest non-woven production in the country, but its melt-blown fabric is not as impressive, taking up merely 4.03%.
Graphic I Where the Main Producers for Melt-blown Nonwoven are and their Share in total production
In fact, the non-woven production has been growing steadily over the years as the rapid economic growth expedited more consumption of technical textiles overboard and the nonwoven products are applied to many end-uses in growing volume across the sectors. The production of non-wovens is given below in the bar-graphics to illustrate the ramp-up in the years between 2012-2018.
Apart from the growing trend of total non-woven production, the melt-blown sector, though a little member of the big family, prospects a quick curve-up as its unique property in filtering, obstructing, isolating and absorbing performance will give an impetus to more application to the mask production which is running in full capacity now, with more new lines to be installed on investment spur. In 2018, China produced 4.54 billion pieces of face masks, up by 17% over 2017 figure for 3.66 billion pieces. If you just think about one layer of melt-blown fabric for an ordinary medical mask and three layers for a high grade N95 mask as it is an essential filtering core for masks, what a sizable production of this particular product is going to be in store in the future with the pandemic not being mitigated by the pre-maturing reopened economic activities that are taking place in some continents in the world?
2020 will witness amazing growth of mask production and consumption as the sources from Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) already confirmed the daily output of masks for over 20 million in early Spring, and the export data for masks growth by 986.36% in the first four months of the year argues well in this expectation.
Let us come back to the core issue of quality production and supply in serious attitude, though more production does not necessarily lead to more off-grade products. Where there is profit heat, there is zealous speculator, which is like weeds in fields of crops, and obviously, you are not expected to stop growing crops just to rid the fields of the nauseating wild, and you try to remove , if not able to eradicate the wild plant while more efficient ways are taken to make sure the crops are growing in a well-controlled manner. The government has cracked down relentlessly on the ill-intended producers, even though there are a few, who are already exposed to the public in the Public Notice in the website of Ministry of Commerce (MoC), indicating a strong law enforcement in mask quality supply system.
The new standard for KN95, effective from July 1, is part of the comprehensive efforts on industrial side to ensure an orderly production and quality and safe supply chain as the mask goes global, and it is the quality that counts most when it comes to the disease prevention and control that matters on reliable basis.