Major companies are branching into new fields to make medical gowns and hand sanitizer as part of an effort to ease shortages of personal protection equipment caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Textile maker Teijin Ltd. will begin producing medical gowns and plans to supply 9 million to government ministries and agencies by the end of June.
Teijin will utilize the materials and know-how of its Osaka-based unit, Teijin Frontier Co., to produce 50,000 gowns a month from May at the latter's factory in Omuta, Fukuoka Prefecture. Overseas plants, including those in China and Thailand, are also expected to start production.
Medical gowns come in two types — surgical and nonsurgical. Teijin will upload the designs to its website so other businesses can pitch in to ease the shortage.
Synthetic-fiber maker Toray Industries Inc. is more than tripling production of protective gear from the previous year with a view to supplying to the domestic market.
Toray is also increasing the production of fabric for disposable medical masks at its factories in Indonesia and China, company officials said, adding they hope to provide enough fabric to make about 60 million masks a month starting in May.
Cosmetics maker Shiseido Co. meanwhile began producing hand sanitizer Friday at its factory in Tochigi Prefecture and will expand production to plants in Osaka, Shizuoka and Saitama prefectures from May. It aims to produce 200,000 bottles, or 100,000 liters, per month to supply medical institutions for a fee.
Shiseido said that by using its know-how and cosmetics technology, it has developed a sanitizer that helps prevent dry hands even when applied repeatedly. It said the formula, which was approved by the health ministry, will be shared with other companies.
Shiseido is already making free disinfectant at its factories in France and the United States for medical institutions in both countries.
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