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Cloth Face Mask Market Opportunity

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Discussion thread for Cloth Face Mask Market Opportunity - A business opportunity to make and sell cloth masks as part of the COVID-19 coronavirus regulations.

mask-business-market-opportunity.jpg

Rationale
South Africa has made the use of cloth face masks mandatory as South Africa begins to gradually lift its COVID-19 coronavirus restrictions. This will apply to "all lockdown levels and beyond". South Africa has adopted a tiered approach in various levels with level 5 being the most restrictive (full lockdown), level 4 less, level 3 lesser etc. Level 5 lasted around 5 weeks, and there is not telling how long each level will last, or even whether we will revert back to another level if things don't improve. The use of washable cloth face masks is recommended for the general public as "surgical masks and N-95 masks are critical supplies that must be reserved for healthcare workers and other at-risk groups such as medical first responders". Based on this logic there is still a an opportunity for both protective cloth masks for consumers and medical masks for professionals. However this opportunity only covers cloth face masks. 

The cloth mask opportunity is the easiest for small businesses to get into with access to a sewing machine, a pattern and materials being the only requirement. This market opportunity is to discuss this opportunity.

Points of discussions
For consumer cloth masks the question is will this be a fad driven by government restrictions or will it remain a trend as part of the "new normal"?

Business Opportunities
Supply of raw materials (fabric, cotton, etc.)
Manufacture of cloth face mask
Wholesale of cloth face masks
Retail of cloth face mask

Getting Started
Manufacturing

Equipment
Sewing machine, fabric cutter

Material
Cotton fabric, a blend will work, but the lighter the better. It can even be made from t-shirt fabric, the more breathable the better as wou will be putting a filter inside (we don't want a heavyweight material.

For filtration (the N95 is 0.3 microns thick), vacuum bags, like HEPA filter is same like that. Nurses are using "HEPA filter fabrics in the video). Without the filter it will still help filter out around 50% due to cotton material.
Filtration information
What Are The Best Materials for Making DIY Masks?
Study: Aerosol Filtration Efficiency of Common Fabrics Used in Respiratory Cloth Masks

Nose bridge: The other important part is the "seal", this is the part that helps the mask fit properly on your face so no germs enter around the mask ("to help create the bridge of the nose that gives you a tighter seal"). A popular item used as a seal is pipe cleaners, although we can discuss cheaper alternatives ("anything that is going to bend and hold its shape"). "wax covered thread" is mentioned as well. So is "the top of file folder cabinets (the bending metal piece)" .

Elastic piece for ear piece (hair bands can also be used).

elastic-solutions.jpg

Elastic and tie solutions for your face mask. Credit: Sewcanshe

Lastly the "Skin safe double-sided adhesive tape" to help create a seal around where your face is sealed, that filter piece of it (did not pass the "fit test" while the filter was in place without the self-adhesive tape, tape added the "extra seal" to be able to pass the test). This is not compulsory and not used in our version.
All purpose thread for stitching

Labour
Sewing time: 5-10 minutes

The mask should have a pocket design or envelope to put the filter into

Financials
As a price guide the government intends to pay a maximum of R20 each for two-layer fabric masks, and R25 each for three-layer masks. However we have seen basic cloth masks range from R10 to R35 for (dependent on quality). This will give you an idea of retail value. R25 - R30 each should be the retail guide for a Olson mask comprising of basic materials (three layer). Please note this is a retail based on a single quantity. Read on for wholesale.

Goal
In order for this market opportunity to be viable, the material cost for the mask should not be higher than R5 and should not take more than 5 minutes to complete (12 an hour). To factor in time between completing masks, a reasonable target of 10 masks per hour should be attainable.

Based on this we foresee a reasonable wholesale price to be R15 and retail price to be R25.

Mask design
The most popular face mask design is the Olson. The Olson Mask Pattern was designed by medical professionals to be used when other surgical and N95 masks are not available. However there are many mask designs available some which are inspired by the Olson design.

Explanation
The Olson mask is made up of six pieces 2x face piece, 2x mouth piece and 2x cheek piece sewn as per instructions, elastic (or hair tie) is added for the ear pieces, nose bridge wire added and the filter inside.

Bill of materials (per mask)
2x face fabric
2x mouth fabric
2x cheek fabric
2x pieces of elastic
1x thin wire or similar for nose bridge (anything that is going to bend and hold its shape)
1x filter
All purpose thread for sewing

Olson Mask Pattern v4

Pattern
Tutorial 1
Tutorial 2
Here is an easy explained tutorial

Frequently Asked Questions from mask designer

Olson Mask for PPE With Optional Filter Pocket

Recommended Guidelines Fabric Face Masks RSA

Risk Factors
There is a growing movement of people making and giving masks available for free, while this is a great initiative especially for people who cannot afford to purchase one, it may impact the market depending on how widespread these projects are.
Competition
Many people and companies are currently making and selling masks.


About This market opportunity covers the manufacture, wholesale and retail of cloth face masks used as protection against the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Info Mask Market Opportunity part of Mask Business
Skills / Labour Sewing machine operation, pattern reading and cutting
Equipment Sewing machine, fabric cutter
Materials Cotton fabric (mask), filtration material, anything that is going to bend and hold its shape (for nose bridge/seal), elastic piece (earpiece). All purpose thread for stitching. See market opportunity link for more information.
Strategy Low cost is the predominant competitive strategy currently observed, there are even initiatives to give it away for free (see risk factors in market opportunity). Possible option to employ a differentiation strategy to manufacture neck gaiter/tube scarf, bandannas etc. as identical skills, equipment and materials are required.
Business Opportunities Supply of Materials and Equipment; Manufacture, Wholesale & Retail; Training.

Discussion points:
Will this be a short-lived "fad" driven by government regulations or will it remain a trend as part of the "new normal"?

How this works:
I will create a post for all the parts of this market opportunity. If you want to discuss that particular subject quote and reply. Highlighting the part in bold for clarity (if necessary). See example below. If someone quotes it then you can reply to them only if it relates to their post. Otherwise quote the main post of mine.

Rules
Message @Admin if uncertain of anything, do not ask question in this thread if you are uncertain. Post only if you are interested or can add value. Read our community rulesNo "more info pls": Read how to ask a good question if you interested but don't know how to ask a good question.

Example:

Quote
Equipment Sewing machine, fabric cutter

You can use a scissors if you don't have or cannot afford a fabric cutter.

Advertising
All adverts to go in listings and a link added here to listing, all ads without a listing will be deleted, no standalone ads in this thread.


Not "if", but "how".

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Skills / Labour Sewing machine operation, pattern reading and cutting

Not "if", but "how".

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Equipment Sewing machine, fabric cutter

Not "if", but "how".

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Materials Cotton fabric (mask), filtration material, anything that is going to bend and hold its shape (for nose bridge/seal), elastic piece (earpiece). All purpose thread for stitching.

Not "if", but "how".

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Strategy Low cost is the predominant competitive strategy currently observed, there are even initiatives to give it away for free (see risk factors in market opportunity). Possible option to employ a differentiation strategy to manufacture neck gaiter/tube scarf, bandannas etc. as identical skills, equipment and materials are required.

Not "if", but "how".

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Financials See market opportunity.

Not "if", but "how".

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Business Opportunities Supply of Materials and Equipment; Manufacture, Wholesale & Retail; Training.

Not "if", but "how".

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Discussion points:
Will this be a short-lived "fad" driven by government regulations or will it remain a trend as part of the "new normal"?


Not "if", but "how".

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Ken said:
Equipment Sewing machine, fabric cutter


sewing-machine-video.thumb.jpg.e4178960a57c79da557fe655ab632c1d.jpg
In case anyone was wondering the lady above is using a Brother computerised sewing and embroidery machine (looks like the SE400) , but any sewing machine will work just fine as it's straightforward stitching. 

5 hours ago, Ken said:
Equipment Sewing machine, fabric cutter

And for the cutter she has a Cricut Explore Air (looks like a first generation which is slower than the 2).fabric-cutter-video.thumb.jpg.913c8633f3dafd3b0931621396f10b3e.jpg

While it does have the benefit of convenience and ease of use, there is obviously no need for such expensive "prosumer" machines.

A scissor as mentioned will work just fine, so will a manual or electric rotary cutter:

fabric-cutters-manual-electronic.jpg.1c08acc179f044d3853dafe2916b9e68.jpg

Edited by Business Machines

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Ken said:
Financials See market opportunity.

 

Quote

Bill of materials (per mask)
2x face fabric
2x mouth fabric
2x cheek fabric

2x pieces of elastic
1x thin wire or similar for nose bridge (anything that is going to bend and hold its shape)
1x filter
All purpose thread for sewing

Looking at the bill of materials I think a price guide of R5 in materials per mask is not unachievable, the widest part of the face fabric is 17cm, that will give you around 5 and a half masks per square meter of material. Here are the patterns on roughly 1m2 of material:

mask-material.thumb.jpg.bff5a0fd984d683d8fc53500d5380c45.jpg

As for output, based on this video of a simpler design, where the presenter is not talking most of the time but actually sewing, 5 minute per mask also seems reasonable. But let's work on 10 masks per hour.

As for the financials, R5 bill of materials per mask, 10 masks per hour and a wholesale price of R15 (based on a minimum quantity) and retail price of R25, puts enough meat on the bone for both manufacturer selling wholesale and retailer (R10 / R10).

6 hours ago, Ken said:
Materials Cotton fabric (mask), filtration material, anything that is going to bend and hold its shape (for nose bridge/seal), elastic piece (earpiece). All purpose thread for stitching.

I am busy putting together a bulk manufacturing kit containing all the materials to manufacture masks, just add your sewing machine and skills.

Edited by Material Boy

dirt.jpg.d80b5ba0cbb09ca9f6b07fd0b90a8501.jpgDirt for my shrew :)

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Hi guys, I'm stay at home mom looking to make some extra income. I have a sewing machine and materials but I'm having trouble sourcing the nose bridge wire, I looked at pipe cleaners but it's too expensive at Takealot. What are other options?

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8 hours ago, Mel said:

Hi guys, I'm stay at home mom looking to make some extra income. I have a sewing machine and materials but I'm having trouble sourcing the nose bridge wire, I looked at pipe cleaners but it's too expensive at Takealot. What are other options?

Hi Mel, you can post a mask business lead here if you don't come right elsewhere.


Community liaison. 
It ain't much but it's honest work.

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Mel said:

Hi guys, I'm stay at home mom looking to make some extra income. I have a sewing machine and materials but I'm having trouble sourcing the nose bridge wire, I looked at pipe cleaners but it's too expensive at Takealot. What are other options?

Hi Mel
The disposable surgical face masks we manufacture uses twist tie wire inserts for the nose bridge.

twisttiewiresmask.thumb.jpg.ec571dcda985c68d7a89d71c10543001.jpg

This is a cheap product that is widely available. It's used in packaging (bag sealers), gardening and other general purpose use like to keep cables neat. 

twisttiewires.thumb.jpg.954a5708a78956625de7f7f6f1532928.jpg
Image credit: TheGoodSport

I'm not sure how firm the very thin ones used in disposables which has lightweight material would hold in a thick fabric mask but some are quite firm and will hold firm, if you find it is too flimsy you can use double it up with two pieces of wire. I have looked at the metal file fasteners some have recommended but the end parts are too small and it's more expensive than twist tie wire.

Here it costs 50c a meter at Takealot (R15 for 30m) and will be even cheaper in bulk. We use a 10cm piece in our masks so we get ten pieces per meter, but I'm not sure how much you will need for the Olson mask design.

Edited by CCH

Sales rep in the medical industry.

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On 5/5/2020 at 2:02 PM, Mel said:

Hi guys, I'm stay at home mom looking to make some extra income. I have a sewing machine and materials but I'm having trouble sourcing the nose bridge wire, I looked at pipe cleaners but it's too expensive at Takealot. What are other options?

 

On 5/5/2020 at 11:23 PM, CCH said:

Hi Mel
The disposable surgical face masks we manufacture uses twist tie wire inserts for the nose bridge.

twisttiewiresmask.thumb.jpg.ec571dcda985c68d7a89d71c10543001.jpg

This is a cheap product that is widely available. It's used in packaging (bag sealers), gardening and other general purpose use like to keep cables neat. 

twisttiewires.thumb.jpg.954a5708a78956625de7f7f6f1532928.jpg
Image credit: TheGoodSport

I'm not sure how firm the very thin ones used in disposables which has lightweight material would hold in a thick fabric mask but some are quite firm and will hold firm, if you find it is too flimsy you can use double it up with two pieces of wire. I have looked at the metal file fasteners some have recommended but the end parts are too small and it's more expensive than twist tie wire.

Here it costs 50c a meter at Takealot (R15 for 30m) and will be even cheaper in bulk. We use a 10cm piece in our masks so we get ten pieces per meter, but I'm not sure how much you will need for the Olson mask design.

I have looked at using various wire including jewellery wire, vape wire and binding wire. Jewellery wire is the cheapest starting at R2 per meter but hard to source now, vape wire too expensive starting at R7.50 per meter (R75 for 10m) for 24 gauge (also not being sold now) and thin binding wire is pricey as well (most binding wire was too thick that I saw).

Twist tie wire is both significantly cheaper than the others I looked at and it has a protective covering which is not as soft as a pipe cleaner but with the masks material covering it works well.  


dirt.jpg.d80b5ba0cbb09ca9f6b07fd0b90a8501.jpgDirt for my shrew :)

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On 5/4/2020 at 4:33 PM, Ken said:
Materials Cotton fabric (mask), filtration material, anything that is going to bend and hold its shape (for nose bridge/seal), elastic piece (earpiece). All purpose thread for stitching.

I have assembled a Cloth Face Mask Business Kit, based on the Olson mask design.
Kit makes 1000 masks
Material to make 1000 three layer masks (2x material layer and 1x filter layer), in white and black (I can add other colours/patterns if needed)
Filters to make 1000 masks
Thin coated wire for 1000 masks
Elastic for 1000 masks
(You have to cut materials yourself).
A few spools of all purposes thread, enough to make 1000 masks.
Priced to spec: R5 per mask. R5000.
Link to listing. Send me a PM or reply via Email to listing.


 


dirt.jpg.d80b5ba0cbb09ca9f6b07fd0b90a8501.jpgDirt for my shrew :)

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Posted (edited)
On 5/4/2020 at 4:58 PM, Ken said:

Discussion points:
Will this be a short-lived "fad" driven by government regulations or will it remain a trend as part of the "new normal"?

I was reading Coronavirus face masks: why covering up is becoming the new normal

I think we encountered similar reluctance to cover up before government regulations (first a recommendation and then made compulsory with threat of fines), whereas in the East there has been a cultural tradition stemming from the 2002-2004 Sars epidemic. How long this regulation will continue in SA and of course depends on owners of private property such as malls insisting on it is anyone's guess. Will this continue in SA after regulations and required by malls we have to wait and see but many people still don't wear it and it might not be as widespread as it has been adopted in the East even as part of the "new normal". Many people seem to reject it as a way to show the government the middle finger to what they perceive as overly strict regulations coupled with the fact that some in the scientific community are divided over its overall efficacy of the cloth mask on its own and it still being advised to be worn voluntarily (and not compulsory) in many countries. That being said I doubt they will vanish anytime soon but demand may slow as we continue and things get back to "normal" and people may not wearing them as diligently as they did at the beginning of the lockdown.

Edited by CCH

Sales rep in the medical industry.

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On 5/4/2020 at 4:34 PM, Ken said:
Strategy Low cost is the predominant competitive strategy currently observed, there are even initiatives to give it away for free (see risk factors in market opportunity). Possible option to employ a differentiation strategy to manufacture neck gaiter/tube scarf, bandannas etc. as identical skills, equipment and materials are required.

There is also the niche market of clear face masks aimed at those working with deaf people. 
 

Quote

Standard face masks, which have become widespread as countries try to stop the spread of coronavirus, muffle words and obscure the mouth.

"The basic aim of these transparent masks is to allow deaf and hearing impaired people to read the lips of someone speaking to them," Kelly told the BBC.

"But they are also very useful for autistic people, people with learning difficulties and small children who might be scared of masks or need to be able to see facial expressions.

clearmask.jpg

"In any case, a transparent mask allows you to see each other's smiles, and at this sad time this could not be more important."

It is not just people with hearing loss who could benefit, she says.

Experts suggest that other professions such as taxi drivers or even teachers may find clear masks useful as the coronavirus crisis continues.

A niche product initially designed to help the deaf community, could in fact make everyone's lives better.

Read more at the BBC

A guide to making clear masks with some videos can be found here: DIY face masks with clear panels

 


Community liaison. 
It ain't much but it's honest work.

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On 5/4/2020 at 4:30 PM, Ken said:
Equipment Sewing machine, fabric cutter

 

On 5/4/2020 at 6:29 PM, Business Machines said:

A scissor as mentioned will work just fine, so will a manual or electric rotary cutter:

fabric-cutters-manual-electronic.jpg.1c08acc179f044d3853dafe2916b9e68.jpg

I was going to say that you can create an electric fabric cutter for less than R1200 and have a cordless screwdriver by combining a Bosch IXO with a cutter adapter but then I watched the review and it does not cut fabric well at all.

boschixo.thumb.jpg.ed35efc385f43eb811d77215e33c25b5.jpg

boschcutteradapter.thumb.jpg.db9eca7c095f0640ac711aed08bf0eb1.jpg

 

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