The project to develop virucidal masks received financial support from TDB in May last year as part of its search for novel solutions to fight Covid-19. Thereafter, an agreement was signed on July 8, 2020 for developing virucidal masks. Pune-based Thincr Technologies India Private Ltd, which developed these virucidal masks, claims that the masks are more effective in checking the spread of Covid-19 than ordinary N-95, 3-ply and cloth masks as they give an additional anti-viral protection beyond the shield provided by filtration mechanisms.
Plastic-moulded mask generated by 3D-printers
Thincr Technologies has now applied for a patent for the product, whose commercial production has started. Around 6,000 of such masks have been distributed by an NGO to four government hospitals in Nandurbar and Nashik in Maharashtra and Bengaluru for use by healthcare workers. The virucidal masks have also been distributed to a girls’ school and college in Bengaluru.
Founder director of the startup, Dr Shitalkumar Zambad, said: “We sensed that use of face masks will become nearly universal as the most important tool to prevent infection. But we realised that most masks which were then available (when the pandemic started) 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 commercialise cost-effective and more efficient virucidal-coated masks, as a better approach to reduce the spread of infection.”
The mask was developed with support from Merck Life Sciences located in Nerul, Navi Mumbai, whose research facility was used for the purpose. 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 to provide extra protection. 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. When it comes in contact with enveloped viruses, it disrupts the outer membrane of the virus. The ingredients used in the coated layer are stable at room temperature and are widely used in cosmetics, an S&T statement said.
Zambad said 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 plastic-moulded or 3D-printed mask covers,” he said.