Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, among some important essentials, mask has been one of the detachable things for the humans. Wearing mask has been made mandatory by nearly most of the governments across the world and as suggested by health experts. However, productions of masks has soarded up in years as there was never so massive demand earlier. In a bid to avoid the contraction of virus, many companies have developed various kind of masks since the outbreak.
Now, Pune based start-up firm Thincr Technologies India Private Limited have developed a 3D mask which attacks the COVID-19 virus when viral particles come in contact with it. Notably, these masks are coated with anti-viral agents known otherwise as virucides.
The virucidal mask project is among the earliest projects to have been selected for commercialization, by Technology Development Board (TDB), a statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, as part of the Government’s fight against COVID-19.
How does the mechanism of the mask works?
The coating formulation has been utilized to coat the fabric layer and the 3D printing principle was employed to achieve uniformity of coating. The coated layer can be incorporated as an additional layer in N-95 masks, 3-Ply masks, simple cloth masks, 3D printed or other plastic cover masks, along with reusable filters. These masks thus provide an additional protection beyond the protection achieved by filtration mechanisms.
The coating has been tested and shown to inactivate the SARS-COV-2 virus. The material used for coating on the mask is a Sodium Olefin Sulfonate based mixture. It is a soap forming agent with hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties. In contact with enveloped viruses, it disrupts the outer membrane of the virus. The ingredients used are stable at room temperature and are widely used in cosmetics.The filters of these reusable masks have also been developed using 3D printing.
What does the founder-director of Thincr Technologies India has to say?
Dr. Shitalkumar Zambad, Thincr Technologies India's Founder-Director explaining the need for high quality more effective masks, said, “We started thinking of the problem and possible solutions, during the initial days of the pandemic. We sensed that use of face masks will become nearly universal as the most important tool to prevent infection. But we realized that most masks which were then available and within the reach of common people were homemade and of relatively low quality."
"It is this need for high-quality masks which led us to undertake a project to develop and commercialize cost-effective and more efficient virucidal coated masks, as a better approach to reduce the spread of infection," he added.
Further, Dr. Zambad says that the masks have been found to have bacterial filtration efficiency higher than 95%. “In this project, for the first time, we used 3D-printers to make multilayer cloth filters to precisely fit for plastic-moulded or 3D-printed mask covers”.