Under Armour is the latest athletic powerhouse to make protective equipment for health-care workers amid the coronavirus crisis.
The company said in a statement today that it has started manufacturing and assembling face masks, face shields and specially equipped fanny packs to support the 28,000 health-care providers and staff of the University of Maryland Medical System. Under Armour also said that it is exploring making hospital gowns for the statewide medical system. The face masks will be provided to Baltimore-based regional health-care organization LifeBridge first and is in discussions with Johns Hopkins Medicine, MedStar and other medical facilities regarding their needs.
Under Armour said it has already delivered 1,300 face shields to the University of Maryland Medical System and expects to make more than 500,000 fabric face masks and 50,000 fanny packs.
“When the call came in from our local medical providers for more masks, gowns and supply kits, we just went straight to work,” Under Armour SVP of advanced material and manufacturing innovation Randy Harward said in a statement. “More than 50 Under Armour teammates from materials scientists to footwear and apparel designers from laboratories in Baltimore and Portland quickly came together in search of solutions.”
The protective masks that Under Armour is designing, according to the company, “could be produced very quickly, in high numbers, and could provide an additional barrier against the virus to shield health-care workers.” It was described as a one-piece design with origami-style folds that does not require sewing and is made with breathable, moisture-resistant fabric.
Production is underway at the brand’s Lighthouse innovation hub in Baltimore. Using the facility’s high-speed knife cutter, which the company said can carve nearly 100 pieces of fabric at once, Harward believes around 100,000 masks can be made in a week. These will then be handed to Under Armour teammate volunteers and hospitals for folding and distribution.
The athletic brand said it is also exploring 3D printing N95 and N80 masks.
Although Under Armour is the latest sportswear brand to help medical personnel fighting the spread of the coronavirus by creating face masks, it’s not the only company lending a hand.
On March 27, New Balance said in a statement on its website that it is preparing to produce face masks in its Lawrence, Mass., facility in response to the coronavirus crisis to meet the increasing demand for them. The company revealed the news to its fans on social media, sharing an image of a mask with “Made shoes yesterday. Making masks today.” written underneath.
And Nike revealed, during its third-quarter earnings call on March 24, that it is working with the Oregon Health & Science University to determine how best it can help. One step the company is taking is the prototyping of protective face shields for nurses and doctors who are treating patients infected with the coronavirus.
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