THE Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Textile Research Institute (DOST-PTRI) and the Fashion Design and Merchandising (FDM) Program of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) School of Design and Arts (SDA) worked hand-in-hand in the development of the Philippine standard prototype for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The project aims to provide a long-term solution that would supply the country with PPE specially designed for the Philippine conditions with the use of the available local materials.
DOST-PTRI Director Celia Elumba specially invited the Benilde FDM team to co-create the design and patterns for the prototype, which will be produced by DOST-PTRI and manufactured by Filipino clothing merchandise provider Power Fashion, Inc. The prototype will undergo proper testing standards and quality evaluation by clinician-partners with the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH), who are also in the forefront of PPE innovations.
Benilde FDM Program Chairperson Christine Benet explained that the water-repellent PPEs currently produced by the fashion industry are only enough to shield front-liners from the most basic bacteria. “However, to really protect them from particular viruses, especially those that are airborne, there are still certain standards to be met and proper testing protocols to be done,” she elaborated. “The Philippines heavily relies on imported supplies for PPEs and this is the long-term solution that we must implement to help make the country be self-reliant on this fight.”
The team, comprised of fashion designers, industry experts, textile specialists, and educators, analyzed the needs of the medical front-liners, gathered different imported samples, and focused on the possible entry points of the virus, from the seams and stitches to the actual closures such as zippers, Velcro, and garters.
While the researchers are still sourcing for the perfect local materials, they are currently utilizing the available water-repellent fabrics such as ripstop and nylon taffeta for the washable jumpsuits and the 40 GSM non-woven fabrics for the disposable gown sets.
Benilde, which is known for innovative and inclusive education, has been working with DOST-PTRI since 2019 for the development of the National Sizing System for the Philippines. “In any country, the backbone of the academe is to create new knowledge through research while the government creates policies and provides the pathway for these researches to progress and develop. In times of crisis, collaboration will always be the key solution as we share all our resources and let the whole nation act as one,” Benet stated.
The Benilde FDM team is likewise utilizing its resources in its initiative to produce additional PPE gear to be donated to small public and private hospitals. Currently, the group has produced and donated over 500 PPEs complete with washable jumpsuits and disposable gown sets, head and foot covers, and masks.