Milliken Enables Polypropylene for Use in Protective Face Shields

Milliken innovations are, at their core, solutions—we explore, envision, and create ways in which our material science expertise can answer the call of everyday challenges. Our curiosity drives these efforts, and we deliver some of our greatest results when we collaborate with others in the process.

As our world continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic and its impacts, Milliken saw a way to leverage its capabilities to help solve the growing shortage of face shields. PET, the plastic material used in face shields, is currently in extremely limited supply. This limited material, in turn, leads to fewer face shields available for healthcare professionals. To meet the demands of the healthcare industry, and other industries installing clear plastic shields as preventative hygiene measures, manufacturers would have to consider alternative options. 

For the Milliken Chemical Division, the solution was clear—use existing materials and technologies in a new way. 

The current shortage in plastic materials used for protective face shields encouraged manufacturers to offer the readily available polypropylene (PP) plastic. The material, however, is naturally hazy, so plastic manufacturers turned to Milliken and the company’s NX® UltraClearTM polypropylene concentrate to produce plastics with clarity levels suitable for protective face shields.  

For years, Milliken’s NX® UltraClearTM has helped provide the highest level of transparency in polypropylene, making the plastic a leading choice for housewares, food packaging, medical devices, and a variety of other applications. The clarity achieved by using NX® UltraClearTM concentrates made Milliken and its partners hopeful that polypropylene would be suitable for face shields, too. Milliken conducted trial runs with plastic manufacturers around the world to discover that polypropylene could, in fact, be a viable alternative to PET. 

“We are all facing challenges brought on by COVID-19,” shares Zach Adams, Millad Global Product Line Manager for the Milliken Chemical Division. “Yet, we are encouraged by the teamwork across industries as we all pivot our capabilities to better answer the needs of our global community.”

Companies like Impact Plastics in the U.S. incorporated NX® UltraClearTM concentrates to produce highly transparent polypropylene sheets, which are then supplied to companies manufacturing face shields. Internationally, Mezger in Germany is also employing NX® UltraClearTM concentrates to produce polypropylene sheets suitable for use in face shields.  

Medical face shields made with NX® UltraClearTM polypropylene are now in the market and are currently used by front-line workers.  

In the words of our president and CEO Halsey Cook: “In this global pandemic, we are committed to finding solutions that assist our customers and allow us to join in the fight against COVID-19 wherever we can make a difference.” Learn more about how we are pivoting our capabilities to make an impact: