Bluetree Group says it is set to become the first company in the UK to manufacture industry standard surgical masks.

Following the WHO’s call to increase global mask production by 40%, Bluetree, parent company of InstantPrint and Route 1, converted its 45,000sqft facility into a surgical face mask factory, installing the necessary machinery from its longstanding supplier, Diecut Global.

The Rotherham-based business is now looking to produce 1.4 million masks per week from mid-June, with the masks available on a subscription or contract basis for businesses. It says it has the potential to increase capacity to 20 million per week by September.

The business will be producing type IIR-certified surgical masks, one of the most commonly used types in UK healthcare, and will be launching them under the product name Obisk.

The final stage of production is certification, where the products must be sent to a lab to undergo extensive testing. There are a limited number of companies in the UK able to carry out such work and current demand is understandably high; however Bluetree Group expects this final stage to be completed in the coming weeks.

‘We are in a fortunate position where our existing setup lends itself well to mask production, so when it became apparent that help was needed, we immediately began planning what we could do,’ explained Adam Carnell, managing director at Bluetree Group.

‘The team has worked hard over the last eight weeks to work through the understandably complex regulations around producing medical products; building a clean room production facility and securing some of the most sought-after materials needed to make the masks.

‘We are still operating our business-as-usual product lines, dedicating a separate task force to this project, but aim to make mask production a sustainable line of business for the foreseeable future to help protect the nation.’

Steve Waterhouse, managing director at Diecut Global, added, ‘At a time where all anybody has spoken about is bringing control back to the UK, we have done this, so we are not reliant on any other countries and are also helping our economy bounce back.’