Integration of 3D printing and pharmaceuticals has resulted in a unique type of mask which can fight the virus when viral particles come in contact with it. These masks are developed by Pune-based start-up firm Thincr Technologies India and are coated with anti-viral agents known as virucides.
The virucidal mask project is among the earliest projects to be selected for commercialization, by the Technology Development Board (TDB), a statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), as part of the Government’s fight against COVID-19.
The project has received financial assistance from TDB as part of its search for solutions to fight the pandemic, in May 2020. Following this, an agreement was signed on 8th July 2020 for developing the masks. The 2016-incorporated firm claimed that these cost-effective masks are more effective in checking the spread of COVID-19, in comparison with ordinary N-95, 3-ply, and cloth masks.
Addressing the need for High-Quality more effective asks
Founder Director Dr. Shitalkumar Zambad 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 that 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”.
About the Journey
Thincr Technologies began working on virucidal coating formulations and It was developed with the help of Merck Life Sciences located in Nerul, which provided research facilities for the project. The fabric layer was coated with the coating formulation, and to achieve the uniformity of the coating the 3D printing principle was employed.
N-95 masks, 3-Ply masks, basic cloth masks, 3D printed or other plastic cover masks, as well as reusable filters, can all be incorporated as an additional layer. These masks can provide extra protection beyond that provided by filtration mechanisms.
The SARS-COV-2 virus has been examined and proven to be inactivated by the coating. The coating on the mask is made of a Sodium Olefin Sulfonate-based mixture. It’s a soap-forming substance with both hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties. It disrupts the outer membrane of the virus when it comes into touch with enveloped viruses. The substances utilized are extensively used in cosmetics and are stable at room temperature.
The filters of these reusable masks have also been developed using 3D printing. 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-molded or 3D-printed mask covers”.
Thincr Technologies India has also applied for a patent for this product. Dr. Zambad further informed that commercial-scale manufacturing has also begun. Meanwhile, 6,000 virucidal masks have been distributed to four Government Hospitals in Nandurbar, Nashik, and Bengaluru, for use by the healthcare workers and also to a girls’ school and college in Bengaluru.