Chattanooga-based eSpin Technologies, which uses nanofibers to make high-performance filters and other products, is now trying to put a dent into the nationwide shortage of surgical face masks.
The company has redeployed some operations and it's producing from 1,000 to 1,500 of the disposable masks a day, said Neema Doshi, co-founder of the company located at Enterprise South industrial park.
"Today, as we brace to face COVID-19, the technologies developed at eSpin can make a difference," said Doshi, adding that the company of about 20 people is working two shifts to meet production using its microscopic fibers which are smaller than a human hair.
She said eSpin initially began selling the masks to physician groups and cancer hospitals.
"Health care workers need it the most," Doshi said. "Our focus is on the health care workers."
But, she said, there are other businesses which are expressing interest in the masks.
"We have machines to make filters when this need arose," Doshi said about the company that started in 1999.
Earlier this week, the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry launched a medical manufacturing initiative to connect companies with health care entities.
Bradley Jackson, the business group's CEO, said that TN Creators Respond will help create a pipeline to manufacture much needed medical and personal protective equipment for hospitals and health care providers.
"TN Creators Respond is the Tennessee Chamber's way of connecting businesses and health care to ensure we protect Tennesseans from this deadly disease and keep our economy moving," he said.
Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is having second thoughts about ordinary citizens wearing masks. The CDC has been saying that people didn't need to wear masks unless they were sick and coughing or were caring for someone who was ill.
But, new data cited by CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield shows high rates of transmission by people who are infected but don't know it yet, the Times reported. So the CDC is now considering whether to recommend that more people, possibly everyone, wear a mask when out in public.
Doshi said eSpin's disposable surgical masks aren't certified, but they still offer the advantages of a nanofiber layer in three different filtration efficiencies. She said that eSpin is working on future designs as well.
Doshi said eSpin has tweaked its equipment to make the masks.
"Currently, though we do not have an automated face mask-making machine, we have modified existing machiney and technologies," she said.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.