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What is a 3PLY Surgical Face Masks?

What is a surgical mask and how is it manufactured? - Guide

What material is used to make a 3PLY surgical or medical face mask and how it is manufactured?

  • What is a Surgical Face Mask?
  • What are the type of Masks?
  • What is the material used for Surgical Mask?
  • How to make a Surgical Mask
  • Frequently Asked Questions of a Surgical Face Mask

What is a Surgical Face Mask?

surgical mask

The Surgical Mask is used by healthcare professionals in the medical field to protect against disease, germs and viruses.

It helps prevent infections for staff and patients against aerosols (droplets suspended in the air).

It is also used by the public, to protect against allergies to pollen, against the Coronavirus pandemic and other diseases such as Influenza bioaerosols, Rhinovirus or Flu.

The surgical mask has become a common object with the pandemic we are living through.

What are the Type of Masks?

You have already noticed that there are many types of face protection.

Here is a quick guide to help you navigate your way through the masks:

Fabric Mask

Fabric Mask

It is also called Fabric Mask, this kind of barrier mask use by the public made from fabric materials. These Masks are not for non-medical use and offer limited sanitary protection.
Hygiene levels are reduced.
It is washable and reusable.
Cotton is the most commonly used material.
These provide limited protection and only filters 70% to 90% against viruses.
Faced with the mass of products manufactured by companies and individuals since the beginning of the pandemic, in July 2020, AFNOR ( a French Regulatory body)  standardized the manufacture and certification of this type of protection.

FFP1 Mask

FFP1 Mask

Also called dust mask, FFP1 are used in the construction industry or for DIY. It is not effective against viruses and bacteria. It filters at least 78% and lets air through up to 22%.

Ear loops are usually yellow in colour.

FFP2 Mask

FFP2 Mask

The FFP2 mask can be used in medical use or in industry. Indeed, it protects like FPP1 with the addition of filtration against influenza-like viruses, SARS-CoV/SARS-CoV-2 and other rhinoviruses.

The FFP2 has at least 92% filtration and 8% air leakage.

FFP3 Mask

FFP3 Mask

This is the mask that offers the best protection, in addition to the FFP1 st 2, it has a filtration of at least 98% and an air leakage of less than 2%.

Elastics are usually red in colour.

Note: FFP masks can be fitted with a valve to improve exhalation. As the air is unfiltered, it does not protect others from aerosols, so it is not recommended or prohibited in certain places.

Surgical Mask

Surgical Mask

The surgical mask is the most common, it is easily distinguished with its three folds visible on its front face. It is often blue in colour.

It is often called the Disposable Mask.

Filtration 90% to 98% minimum. 

Exists in 3 types of surgical masks:

  • Type I : filter   90%, non medical
  • Type II : filter  95%, medical
  • Type IIR : filter ≥ 98%, medical, droplets resistant

Overview of Masks:


Filtration ≥

Protect against viruses?

Medical use?

Fabric Mask
















FFP with valve


Only the wearer


Surgical Mask (Type I)




Surgical Mask (Type II)




Surgical Mask (Type IR)




How to Know if your Surgical Face Mask Protects you Well?

To be safe with a mask, the packaging must contain all information of the safety signs:

  • CE marked Logo with BS EN 14683:2019
  • Who distribute the mask.
  • Where is the factory.
  • Efficiency of filtration
  • Material used to make the mask.

Be careful, some masks might contains allergen material likes latex.

What is the material used for Surgical Mask?

The surgical mask is composed almost entirely of plastic with 3 layers of non-woven fabrics (polypropylene), a plastic and / or metal nose bar as well as elastic bands in polyester and synthetic fibre such as Spandex, Lycra or elastane.

3 Layers Surgical Disposable Mask

1) The Mask:

It is made of 3 layers of Polypropylene, one of the most common plastics, which is used for plastic chairs for example.

The term non-woven is used for this type of material.

 Surgical Disposable Mask

2) The Nose Bridge:

It is designed partially or entirely of plastic with or without metal reinforcement. Some nose guards are made entirely of metal.

The clip must be flexible and keep the shape you want to give it, in order to fit the shape of the top of your nose to avoid leaks air.

Nose Bridge for Disposable Mask

3) Ear Loops :

Ear loops are mostly made of polyester and synthetic fibre (Spandex, Lycra or elastane) to ensure elasticity.

There are different shapes, some of which are tied like laces behind the head.

They should be soft so as not to irritate the back of the ears.

Surgical Mask Ear Loops

How to make a Surgical Mask?

3 Ply disposable face masks are made with 2 machines:

Face Mask machine able to combined layers together and add the nose wire inside:

 disposable face mask machine to manufacture

Ear Loops machine that welds on the mask:

ear loops machine for surgical disposable face mask

The average of production is 1 mask per second. 

Frequently Asked Questions of a Surgical Face Mask

What is the difference between surgical mask and normal mask?

Masks provide not a full protection against viruses, germs and bacteria. Surgical masks are one use products, splash resistant and fit better on the face.

What defines a surgical mask?

A Surgical Mask is a physical barrier against potential contaminants in airborne pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria and germs. There are often known as Face Masks.

How long is a surgical mask effective?

Surgical Mask with 3 layers can be effective up to 4 hours. If the mask is contaminated or damaged, it must be immediately disposed.

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