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Japan makers pitch high-tech face shields to curb virus infections

This supplied photo shows Sharp Corp.'s face shield made with a titanium frame. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japanese manufacturers are gearing up production of face shields and masks utilizing cutting-edge technologies in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19 amid growing concerns over a resurgence of novel coronavirus infections.

    Sharp Corp. has started producing face shields with little reflection and fogging on the surface, using its original technology to manufacture liquid crystal display panels for TV sets and smartphones.

    The electric appliance and panel maker said its unique technology for putting tiny protuberances on the surface of face shields, manufactured in its factory in Yonago, Tottori Prefecture, western Japan, largely cuts the reflection of light and prevents fogging from exhalation, ensuring clear visibility for a long time.

    The company also employs light titanium frames made in Sabae in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan -- a city famous for high-end spectacle frame production -- for its products in a bid to reduce users' fatigue and stress.

    Sharp will start selling products on its online shopping website on Nov. 30, expecting them to help protect health care workers and those in the service industry from virus infections.

    The price tag of the product is 8,980 yen ($85) while a low-cost version using polycarbonate for its frame is already on sale and priced at 1,980 yen.

    Meanwhile, a team of people from a national medical institution, an air conditioner maker and other companies in western Japan is developing reusable medical face masks with a plan to mass-produce them in Japan as early as January, as Japanese hospitals and clinics largely rely on imported products.

    Under the project led by the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center in Osaka, the team plans to manufacture highly protective N95 masks with an exchangeable filter to meet possible high demand once a resurgence of virus infections occurs in the winter.

    Air conditioner maker Daikin Industries Ltd. provides its advanced technology for the exchangeable filters, while medical device maker Nipro Corp. manages the overall production and sales activities.

    "A shortage of N95 masks continues in many medical institutions. We want to provide made-in-Japan medical face masks to hospitals across the country to ensure safe treatment for patients," said Kunihiro Nishimura at the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center.

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