Sharp using TV factory to mass-produce coronavirus face masks

2 Mar 2020

Image: © May_Chanikran/

Sharp will now start mass-producing face masks at its TV factory in Japan as the country tries to combat the spread of coronavirus.

As global supply chains struggle to keep goods moving following the outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19), one tech giant is using its production facilities to help limit the outbreak. According to Associated Press, Japanese electronics firm Sharp – owned by Foxconn – has started producing face masks at one of its factories that usually produces TV and screen displays.

The Mie Prefecture Plant in Japan will produce 150,000 masks per day by the end of the month, Sharp said. Eventually, this will rise to 500,000 a day.

Future Human

The plant is seen as ideal because electronic displays are generally made in ‘germ-free’ plants to prevent small particles making their way into the manufacturing process. In a statement, Sharp said that it is hoping to contribute to society by meeting the demand for masks.

In Japan – and elsewhere across the world – masks have become hard to come by since the Covid-19 outbreak. While wearing masks has been common practice in Japan to stop the spread of colds and prevent allergies, the recent surge in demand has seen huge queues forming outside pharmacies as stocks dwindle.

When to wear one

The HSE has advised people in Ireland not to use a face mask if they feel well and don’t show symptoms for the virus, as there is no evidence that using masks brings any benefits to healthy people.

It does advise those who have the virus or suspect they may have it to wear one. It is also advisable for those who come in close contact with someone with Covid-19 to wear one, such as healthcare workers.

The World Health Organisation also warned that a face mask is only effective when combined with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

The tech industry is expected to be hit hard by the outbreak, with a report published last month showing that the forecast for global production of smartphones will likely see a 12pc dip year on year as a result of the outbreak. With 275m expected units to be produced in Q1 2020, this would be a five-year low for the industry.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic