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Wakayama - Flat knitting solutions provider Shima Seiki has produced 3D knitted masks for use at elementary schools and junior-high schools (primary and intermediate schools) in Wakayama Prefecture, Japan where the company is based.

The masks are produced at Shima Seiki headquarters by request of the prefectural government of Wakayama, based on knitting data for one of several types of masks released by the company since 19th March in its effort to help alleviate the worldwide shortage of masks due to the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus infection.

The data was originally intended for Shima Seiki users to knit masks on their own knitting machines, and is available for download from the Shima Seiki Users’ Site, a knit sample archive featuring over 10,000 items. There have been over 300 downloads for various mask data so far.

The mask data drew interest from the prefecture, which promptly made its request for mask production. It is rare, the company says, for it to accept requests for knit production in mass quantities, but Shima Seiki said it viewed it as an opportunity to contribute to its community, which it has continuously cherished.

The arrangement also benefits children of Shima Seiki employees who attend school in those school districts.

So far, 8,000 children’s masks have been produced on the SVR093SP computerized flat knitting machine in 14G. Although a conventional shaping machine, SVR093SP is capable of producing masks in one-piece without the need for sewing afterward, identical to the WHOLEGARMENT masks whose data is also available for production on the company’s SWG-n2 series WHOLEGARMENT knitting machines.

The children’s masks are available in 3 sizes to cover the wide age-range of schoolchildren.

According to Shima Seiki, the 3D form-fitted masks provide superior fit and comfort while integral ear straps are knitted along with the mask portion to reduce stress on the ears. No further sewing is required ensuring a quick response production while a filter-pouch is knitted-in for inserting commercially available virus filters and other filtration fabrics.

Holes are also knitted-in for insertion of wires that provide further adjustment for improved fit.

The knitted cotton masks, using cotton, nylon and polyurethane, can be washed and reused repeatedly. Unlike common nonwoven surgical masks however, Shima Seiki notes that the knit masks do not have virus- and pollen-filtration functionality. Their main purpose is to contain spray from coughing and sneezing, and for reducing exposure to allergens.

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