Berkshire Hathaway’s Johns Manville plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, started production this month to make nonwoven fabric that will be used for manufacturing of urgently needed disposable medical gowns used in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.
“There is a desperate need in North America and in Europe for medical gowns,” said John Vasuta, President of Johns Manville’s Engineered Products business. “Our teams are working quickly to create solutions and manufacture a new coated polyester spunbond nonwoven fabric. We are going through unprecedented times – so every step to support health care workers and others on the front lines helps right now.”
This is the second move by Johns Manville to quickly develop and launch a product that can improve the safety of people in potential direct contact with the COVID-19 virus. In April, production started in Richland, Mississippi, of nonwoven media for the manufacturing of face masks.
“Given the urgent need for action,” Vasuta said, “we quickly decided to build on our own capabilities and develop a coated product to supply the domestic medical gown manufacturing industry.”
The new polyester spunbond nonwoven is designed for the production of Level 3 medical gowns. “The fabric offers superior liquid barrier performance compared to materials used for Level 1 and Level 2 medical gowns, while also providing comfort and stitch-strength,” said Souvik Nandi, Director Nonwovens Technology at Johns Manville Engineered Products.
The JM plant in Spartanburg employs 100 people and produces a variety of polyester nonwoven products for the use in mainly filtration, roofing and specialty applications using JM’s proprietary spunbond technology. Johns Manville operates a multitude of polyester spunbond lines across the globe with a distinct customer and market focus.
The new fabric is formally known as Evalith® 017/120H3 and is a coated continuous filament, calendared polyester nonwoven. It meets the requirements for a Level 3 medical gown as established by ANSI/AAMI PB70:2012 Liquid barrier performance and classification of protective apparel and drapes intended for use in health care facilities. Per this standard, the material was tested to AATCC 42-2017 Water Resistance: Impact Penetration Test and AATCC 127-2017 Water Resistance: Hydrostatic Pressure Test. Additionally, Evalith 017/120H3 has been tested to and meets the flammability standard per 16 CFR Part 1610 Class 1, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration policy and guidance.
© 2020 David Mazor
Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway and BYD, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell a stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.