CLEVELAND—Lubrizol Corp.'s Estane thermoplastic polyurethanes have leapt from shoe soles to the padding in new coronavirus face masks made by sports footwear and apparel giant Nike Inc.
The material, which Lubrizol has donated, also is found in powered air-purifying respirator lenses. Both the masks and powered respirators are being used in several hospitals across the U.S., Lubrizol said.
Lubrizol's 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. The Saint Charles, Mo., plant has "decades of experience in designing, developing and manufacturing an extensive range of TPU-based products," it said in a statement.
The footwear maker also 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 first shipment of donated full-face shields and powered air lenses on April 3.
Nike has also shipped products to health care providers in and around Cleveland, where Lubrizol's world headquarters are located.
''We are grateful for the generosity of companies around the country as we build up our supply levels in anticipation of a surge," Laura Kalafatis, chair of Cleveland Clinics Philanthropy Institute, said in a statement. "This collaboration between Lubrizol and Nike demonstrates ingenuity applied alongside compassion and a sincere interest to help thousands of our caregivers."
In addition to 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 a news release.
Lubrizol also is donating $2 million to help fight the coronavirus around the world, and has donated to food banks in areas where it has operations. The company also has supported local restaurants by buying meals for hospital workers.