Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Mikron and Festo partner on mobile production lines for face masks

June 17, 2020
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Festo's DFM guided drive prepares ear loops for the Mikron mask production line. Photo: Festo

Mikron, a producer of automated systems based in Switzerland, has developed a compact manufacturing line using components from Festo and Beckhoff Automation to make disposable face masks needed for the fight against COVID-19.

This new scalable, open-source system can produce 50-100 protective mouth-nose masks per minute or up to two million per month. With Festo contributing engineering support, the compact line was developed in just six weeks instead of the usual six months.

Mikron’s system fits in a 20-foot shipping container, which can also act as a clean room. It can be located where it’s most needed – at a hospital or school or shopping centre, in major cities or remote locations.

The integrated air-conditioning system with air purification filters means production is even possible in places with an elevated risk of viral contamination.


Mikron designers and fitters spent a week developing a 3D model. For actual assembly, Festo’s Automation Suite allowed for integration of CMMT servo drives to a Beckhoff PLC.

Mikron’s production line fits in a 20-foot shipping container. Photo: Festo

These mouth-nose protection masks are comprised of multiple layers of melt-blown, non-woven fabric made of fine fibres that are capable of filtering out even tiny particles such as bacteria and viruses. Mikron estimates that the German medical system alone needs 50 million of this type of mask per month.

Electric and pneumatic components from Festo provide motion for key process steps, like clamping, folding, shaping and sealing. The CMMT drives that control EMMT electric motors can be connected to PLCs from a range of manufacturers, including Beckhoff, Siemens and Rockwell.

Key pneumatic components come from Festo’s core product range, including ADN compact cylinders, DFM guided drives and DSNU round cylinders. The pneumatic drives are actuated by MPA valves.

MS6-SV-E safety valves ensure that safety-critical system components are exhausted and de-energized in the event of an emergency stop.

Mask production also can be routed to the larger consumer market. The system can be configured to make shrink-wrapped packets of a single or 10 masks, and then bagged or boxed if desired by docking an automated packaging station from pi4.robotics.

Mikron technicians are able to commission the compact lines virtually, using HoloLens, which enables an interactive 3D projection.

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