Mar 31, 2020,- Under Armour is switching from creating sportswear and spacesuits to making face masks, face shields and even specially equipped fanny packs as it looks to aid health care workers battling the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Baltimore-based company announced this week that it will begin to manufacture and assemble personal protective equipment for the University of Maryland Medical System and its 28,000 health care providers and staff. Under Armour has already delivered 1,300 face shields to UMMS and plans to make and distribute more than 500,000 fabric face masks, as well as put together 50,000 fanny packs with supplies for personal preparedness kits. The company is also exploring making hospital gowns and 3D printing N95 and N80 masks for health care workers in the future.
In addition to the partnership with UMMS, Under Armour (NYSE:UAA) plans to provide face masks to LifeBridge Health, and is in talks with Johns Hopkins Health System, MedStar Health and other local hospital systems about their supply needs.
“When the call came in from our local medical providers for more masks, gowns and supply kits, we just went straight to work,” said Randy Harward, senior vice president of advanced material and manufacturing innovation at Under Armour, in a statement. “More than 50 Under Armour teammates from materials scientists to footwear and apparel designers from laboratories in Baltimore and Portland quickly came together in search of solutions.”
Under Armour was inspired to start making face masks after hearing an interview with an Italian doctor who said that if Italy had more masks, the spread of coronavirus could have been significantly reduced. The company decided to focus on designing a mask that could be produced fast and in high numbers while still being able to provide another barrier against the virus for health care workers. Under Armour settled on a one-piece mask design that doesn’t require any sewing. It uses origami-style folds to mold a breathable yet moisture-resistant fabric into the mask shape.
Production is currently underway at the Lighthouse, Under Armour’s innovation hub in Baltimore, where employees are using the lab’s knife cutter to carve out nearly 100 pieces of fabric at once. Those cutouts are then sent to a group of Under Armour employee volunteers and hospitals for folding and distribution. Using this method, Under Armour predicts it can generate as many as 100,000 masks a week going forward.
Manufacturing personal protective gear is Under Armour’s latest move to assist with efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The company previously pledged $2 million toward relief efforts and has opened its Sparrows Point distribution warehouse to allow the Maryland Emergency Management Agency to stage medical supplies there.
These efforts come as Under Armour is dealing with its own issues stemming from the pandemic. The company has closed all its retail stores and recently borrowed $700 million to ease a lack of liquidity caused by the pandemic.
As the COVID-19 spreads its reach across the globe, there is rise of more masks for the health care workers. Hence, Under Armour has recently switched from its original product line and started making protective gears for Maryland Medical System. iDesigniBuy is a leading fashion tech company and provides sustainable fashion solutions. It appreciates the efforts of fashion players and supports communities fighting the pandemic.