Photo/Illutration Face masks manufactured by Sharp Corp. feature the company logo. (Provided by Sharp Corp.)

Demand for face masks overwhelmed Sharp Corp.’s server on April 21, blocking access to its website for sales of the protective gear and disabling functions of smart home appliances produced by the company.

Sharp started online sales of face masks manufactured at its factory in Mie Prefecture at 10 a.m. But its website was immediately inundated with potential orders, and the website was soon inaccessible.

The same server is used to manage operations of Sharp-produced household appliances through users’ smartphones, but that service was also rendered inoperable.

“We had a great response from consumers, but we are sorry to cause them problems,” a public relations official of the company said. “We are thoroughly looking into the causes of the trouble.”

Sharp started producing face masks on March 24 on the central government’s request to help alleviate the chronic shortage in Japan.

The company installed a mask-making facility in a cleanroom of its factory in Mie Prefecture where liquid crystal panels are manufactured, and it can now produce 150,000 masks per day.

It had been shipping the masks to the government before selling, or at least trying to sell, them online.

The company offered one box containing 50 face masks for 2,980 yen ($27.74), excluding the consumption tax, plus a fee of 660 yen for shipping within Japan.

The company had planned to sell 3,000 boxes a day, and then 10,000 boxes daily after improvements in production.

The nonwoven masks are similar to normal single-use masks.

Sharp had planned to limit sales to one box per person, and one purchase every three days.

If the orders went through on April 21, the masks will be delivered in two to seven days.

The company’s special website to order masks, (, was still experiencing access problems on the afternoon of April 21.