Sharp has co-opted a TV factory to make more face masks in Coronavirus battle

Mike Wheatley

Japanese electronics company Sharp is doing its bit to fight the coronavirus, using one of its existing TV factories to start producing more face masks amid panic buying that has led to a shortage of them in the country.


The BBC reported that Japan’s domestic supplies of surgical face masks are running low. Foxconn, the parent company of Sharp that manufactures iPhones among other products, had already began making its own face masks for workers at its factories in China. Now, Sharp has extended the practice into Japan.

The move highlights the increasing concern from manufacturers over the coronavirus, many of whom have been forced to reduce production capacity across Asia and in some areas even shut down factories completely.

However, it could also impact Sharp’s ability to manufacture televisions meant to be sold to consumers this year, though the company will presumably take steps to minimise this impact and reallocate sales units where possible.

According to the BBC report, Sharp’s TV factory in Mie, a small city near Osaka, has already gotten its face mask operation up and running, and it will be able to manufacture up to 150,000 products per day within the next few weeks. the facility is said to be ideal for manufacturing face masks as it already has the "clean rooms" that are necessary to produce them safely. Eventually the factory could be capable of producing 500,000 masks per day, though many experts continue to doubt the effectiveness they have in preventing the spread of the virus.

Fears over the coronavirus outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China, have already led to the cancellation of several big technology events this year, including the Mobile World Congress and Google IO.