Lenzing and Palmers join forces to tackle shortage of high-quality face masks

Austrian cellulose fibre producer Lenzing Group reacted quickly to the need of the hour and founded a new company, Hygiene Austria LP GmbH, together with Vienna-based Palmers Textil AG two weeks ago, which, in times of Covid-19, will concentrate entirely on the production of mouth-nose protective masks for the Austrian and European market. Now the product range has been extended by FFP2 masks that are recommended for medical staff.

“The coronavirus crisis was a necessary wake-up call for us to once again focus more on domestic manufacturing. Hygiene Austria identified the need and not only offered quick help by founding the Austrian company, but also strengthened Austria as a business location,” comments Austria’s economy minister Margarete Schramböck in a press release by the company on Friday.

News of the new company, in which Lenzing AG holds a 50.1 percent stake and Palmers Textil AG a 49.9 percent stake, was well received and the first orders have already come in: “The media response was enormous. Numerous companies contacted us within just a few hours to place orders worth millions of euros,” confirms Stefan Doboczky, CEO of Lenzing AG, in the press release.

Hygiene Austria produces mouth-nose, surgical protective masks and FFP2 masks

In recent weeks, Lenzing and Palmers have invested several million euros in the Austrian production infrastructure close to Vienna and secured the appropriate raw materials for the production of protective masks. The production of mouth-nose masks and surgical protective masks of class EN14683 was started at the end of April and was expanded by particle-filtering FFP2 masks only two weeks later.

“The difference between a mouth-nose mask and an FFP2 mask is that the latter can filter particles from the air and is primarily used in the healthcare sector as personal protective equipment. FFP2 masks are subject to legal regulations and have to fulfill special testing criteria,” explains Luca Wieser, member of the board of Palmers Textil AG.

“The mouth-nose masks are for private use and serve as a mechanical barrier. They are designed to protect against infection from droplet transmission through speaking, sneezing and coughing,” adds Matvei Hutman, member of the board of Palmers Textil AG.

Capacity to be increased from 12 million to 25 million pieces per month

Hygiene Austria plans to increase the capacity of its manufacturing site soon: “The machinery serves as the basis for producing 12 million mouth-nose protective masks per month. This capacity will be increased to about 25 million pieces in a further expansion phase. Additional machines were put into production as a result of the good level of demand. Current delivery time is just a few days, and availability is ensured at all times due to the high level of daily production,” adds Tino Wieser, member of the board of Palmers Textil AG.

“At the present time there is an enormous shortage of high-quality medical face masks. I therefore would like to thank the cooperation partners Lenzing AG and Palmers Textil AG for selecting the site in Lower Austria for their face mask production. In this way, Austria could rapidly free itself from its dependence on the global market and set up its own production operations,” stresses Jochen Danninger, Lower Austrian state minister of economic affairs.

Photo: hygiene-austria.at


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