How are surgical masks made?

In order to filter and protect, surgical face mask respirators are now produced utilizing non-woven textiles made of polymers like polypropylene, as opposed to the traditional method of wrapping a strip of cloth over the face of a doctor or nurse. 

Depending on the amount of protection a user needs, they are also offered in a wide range of designs and grades. In order to fulfill your medical sourcing requirements, are you looking for further details about surgical face mask respirators? This guide that we’ve developed covers the fundamentals of these surgical mask respirators and their creation. 

You may also check our review of the manufacturing of PPE if you’re interested in learning more about how respirators, gowns, and other personal protection equipment are constructed. Visit our articles on the best surgical face masks and cotton masks for more information.

Noting the present high demand and scarcity of supplies to treat COVID-19 patients hospitalized.

surgical masks

Why Do Surgeons Wear Surgical mask respirators?

By keeping germs from the wearer’s lips and nose from infecting a patient during surgery, surgical mask respirators help to maintain the sterility of operating rooms. Despite growing in popularity among consumers during epidemics like the coronavirus, surgical mask respirators are not intended to filter out viruses, which are smaller than bacteria. You may read our post on the top CDC-approved suppliers for more information on the many kinds of surgical mask respirators that are safer for the medical personnel treating patients with diseases like the coronavirus.

As recently reported by Healthline and the CDC, surgical mask respirators with valves or vents are more likely to transfer illness. The surgical mask respirators will provide the user the same protection as an unvented mask, but since the valve does not prevent viruses from escaping, someone who is not aware of their infection may be able to infect others. A face shield without a mask may also transfer the illness, which is another crucial point to remember.

Masks types

Surgical mask respirators are categorized according to the amount of protection they provide the wearer into one of four ASTM certification categories:

  • Protection at a minimum Face mask are only appropriate for quick operations or examinations that don’t include liquid, spray, or aerosol.
  • With a fluid resistance of 80 mmHg, Level 1 face masks are often equipped with ear loops and are the industry standard for both surgical and procedural applications. They are intended for low-risk scenarios without fluid, spray, or aerosol.
  • Surgical mask respirators classified as Level 2 with a fluid resistance of 120 mmHg provide protection against mild to moderate aerosol, fluid, and spray exposure.
  • Face masks with a level 3 fluid resistance rating are for use in situations where there is a high risk of exposure to aerosol, fluid, and spray.
Masks types

Notably, surgical mask respirators and surgical respirators are two different things. Masks are designed to serve as barriers against splashes or aerosols (such as the wetness from a sneeze), and they fit loosely over the face. A seal is produced around the mouth and nose by respirators, which are designed to filter out airborne particles like germs and viruses. If a patient has a viral illness or if there are particles, vapor, or gases present, respirators should be utilized.

Masks used during procedures and surgical procedures are not the same. Hospitals utilize procedural masks in clean areas like the maternity ward and critical care units, but sterile areas like the operating room do not allow their usage.

May 2021 Update to the CDC’s Mask Usage Guidelines

Given that masks are now more widely accessible since the pandemic’s start, the CDC no longer recommends following these precautions while providing healthcare. The usage of masks in healthcare facilities must resume.

With effect from November 2020, the CDC has updated its recommendations for using masks to enable hospitals and other healthcare facilities to stretch resources during this period of high demand. From routine operations to crisis scenarios, their strategy includes a sequence of phases. You can read about How are surgical masks tested by visiting

  • Postponing appointments when face masks might be necessary for elective treatments are some emergency options.
  • Removing masks from locations where they were previously freely accessible and only giving them to visitors who arrived without them so that their consumption could be observed.
  • Using a face mask for an extended period of time, including using the same mask while visiting different patients. The mask should be thrown away if it becomes dirty, damaged, or difficult to breathe through. Furthermore, the user is not permitted to touch the mask outside. Once removed from the patient care area, wearers should simply take off the mask.
  • Using masks that are undamaged beyond the manufacturer’s sell-by date.
  • Face masks are worn and removed just briefly between visits with patients. If a mask is clean, undamaged, and easy to breathe through, it should only be cleaned in this manner. To prevent contamination, masks should be kept folded inward, and tie-back masks should not be used for this purpose. When leaving the area where patient care is being provided, wearers should take them off.
  • The CDC advises that in emergency circumstances when there are no more masks available, healthcare professionals who are susceptible to the virus be kept away from patients who may be infected, and that everyone else use face shields and cloth masks.

Level I masks will filter 20% of particles larger than.3 microns and Level II masks will filter 50% of particles larger than.3 microns, according to a set of standards for consumer-grade masks developed by the ASTM as of February 2021. But instead of being used medically, they are intended particularly for consumers.

How are surgical masks made?

Non-woven fabric, used to make surgical face masks, is less slippery than woven fabric while offering superior bacterial filtering and air permeability. The most popular material for making them is polypropylene, which has a density of 20 or 25 grams per square meter (gsm). Polystyrene, polycarbonate, polyethylene, and polyester are other materials that may be used to make masks.

In the spun-bond method, molten plastic is extruded onto a conveyor to produce 20 gsm mask material. As it cools, the strands of the material’s extruded web join together. 

Melt blown technology, which is a related process where plastic is extruded through a die with hundreds of tiny nozzles and blown by hot air to produce tiny fibers, then again cooling and binding on a conveyor, is how 25 gsm fabric is manufactured, is comparable to that method. Less than a micrometer separates each of these strands.

Typically, a layer of cloth is covered on both sides with non-woven bonded fabric to create the multi-layered structure that makes up surgical mask respirators. Because they are disposable, non-wovens are created with three or four layers, which makes them easier to produce and more hygienic. 

making of masks

The two filter layers that are often used in the construction of these disposable masks are excellent at removing particles like germs that are larger than one micron. However, the fiber, the process used to make it, the design of the web, and the cross-sectional shape of the fiber all impact a mask’s amount of filtration. The nonwoven materials are assembled from bobbins, the layers are ultrasonically welded together, and the masks are stamped with parts such as nose strips and ear loops. You can also read more about Coronavirus (COVID-19) by clicking here.

Before being sent from the manufacturer, finished masks are then sterilized.