An investigation of enhancing theatre mask comfort using electrospun breathable material

  • Viktorija Sakalyte

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The aim of this thesis is to investigate the issue of perspiration and temperature increase when wearing theatre performance masks. Semi-structured interviews and surveys were designed and employed to elicit knowledge on wearer comfort, manufacturing considerations, mask-making material properties and industry context perspectives from purposely selected professional mask makers. The qualitative data was analysed using thematic analysis consisting of deductive and inductive coding approaches. One key observation from the interviews indicated that the mask material breathability issues were unaddressed due to their incompatibility with the requirements for mask durability, shape retention and currently practiced hygiene solutions. Current mask making practices focussed on addressing sweat related mask damage by adding a water-resistant coating to seal the pores of the material, eliminating its potential for breathability. The aim of this research was to explore the capacity of addressing breathability in performance masks without interfering with other necessary mask material attributes. Using Varaform thermoplastic mesh to tension and structure electrospun PU fabric, kept the majority of the PU fabric surface unsealed and therefore breathable.
The research contributes to new knowledge in several ways:
• Following the insights gained from the interviews with the mask makers, research explored application of porous hydrophobic materials in mask-making to allow water vapour to evaporate via the pores and prevent the durability issue caused by moisture damage by using hydrophobic materials.
• Complex electrospun PU 3D form characterised by double curve was formed from 2D electrospun PU sheets by subjecting it to in-plane distortions while simultaneously constricting the distortion. To create a structurally effective electrospun PU fabric 3D form, thermal based method was used by stretching and compressing the electrospun PU fabric and bonding it to a thermoplastic material – Varaform.
• The approach introduced a new way of thinking about technology integration to mask-making as the researcher brought the user’s comfort needs to the forefront focusing on alternative technology and materials to find creative solutions.
Date of Award21 Mar 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAndrew Hebden (Main Supervisor), Rowan Bailey (Co-Supervisor) & Devabrata Paramanik (Co-Supervisor)

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