Lubrizol Corp.'s Estane thermoplastic polyurethanes have made the leap from shoe soles to the padding in new coronavirus face masks made by sports footwear and apparel giant Nike Inc.
The material, which Lubrizol donated, is also being used in powered air-purifying respirator lenses. Both the masks and powered respirators are being used in several hospitals across the U.S., Lubrizol said in an April 20 news release.
Lubrizol said its innovation team "quickly evaluated materials, provided insights to optimize performance and reorchestrated its production and supply to produce and donate the material to Nike."
Nike said that the full-face shields are produced in a nine-step process developed with its teams in Oregon and Missouri. Nike's St. Charles, Mo., plant has "decades of experience in designing, developing and manufacturing an extensive range of TPU-based products," Nike said.
Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike added that it is rapidly adopting capacities and new production line procedures to keep pace with fast-moving government guidelines.
The Oregon Health and Science University received its first shipment of donated face shields and powered air lenses on April 3.
Nike has also shipped products to health care providers in and around Lubrizol's headquarters home base in the Cleveland suburb of Wickliffe, Ohio.
"We are grateful for the generosity of companies around the country as we build up our supply levels in anticipation of a surge," said Lara Kalafatis, chair of the Cleveland Clinic Philanthropy Institute. "This collaboration between Lubrizol and Nike demonstrates ingenuity applied alongside compassion and a sincere interest to help thousands of our caregivers."
As well as face masks, TPU from Lubrizol is being used in medical gowns, medical equipment, hospital mattresses, tubing, hoses and medical devices for many other critical applications.
"We are thrilled to collaborate with Nike to improve the lives and support those in need," Lubrizol CEO Rick Tolin said in the release.
Lubrizol has pledged a $2 million donation to help fight the virus around the world. During the crisis it has also donated to food banks in areas where it has operations. The company has also supported local restaurants by buying meals for hospital workers.