Pune ThinCr start-up develops 3D printed masks with antiviral properties
Pune-based startup ThinCr Technologies offers 3D printed face masks infused with antiviral agents called viricides that kill viruses when they come in contact with them inside the mask.
The viricidal mask project was one of the first projects the Technology Development Board (TDB) backed for commercialization shortly after the pandemic hit the country last year, according to an official statement on Monday.
ThinCr, which received financial support from TDB, signed an agreement with the funding agency for the production of these masks in July of last year. The company has claimed that these budget-friendly masks are more effective in controlling the spread of Covid-19, compared to regular N-95, 3-ply, and fabric masks.
Thincr Technologies specializes in the development of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printers that help discover new pharmaceutical formulations and drug-loaded filaments of different drugs.
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“We started to think about the problem and possible solutions, during the first days of the pandemic. We felt that the use of face masks would become almost universal as the most important tool to prevent infection. But we found that most of the masks that were then available and within the reach of ordinary people were homemade and of relatively poor quality. It is this need for high quality masks that led us to undertake a project, ”said founding director of ThinCr, Shitalkumar Zambad.
Subsequently, Thincr, with the help of Merck Life Sciences, began to focus on the development of virucidal coating formulations. The coating formulation was then used to coat the fabric layer and the 3D printing principle was used to achieve the uniformity of the coating. The coated layer can be incorporated as an additional layer in N-95 masks, 3-ply masks, plain cloth masks, 3D printed masks or other plastic masks, as well as reusable filters. These masks thus offer additional protection beyond the protection provided by the filtration mechanisms, the press release said.
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The coating is seen to inactivate the SARS-COV-2 virus. The material used for the coating of the mask is a solution based on sodium olefin sulfonate. It is a soapy agent with hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties. On contact with enveloped viruses, it disrupts the outer membrane of the virus. The ingredients used have been shown to be stable at room temperature and are widely used in cosmetics, Zambad said.
“In this project, for the first time, we used 3D printers to make multi-layered fabric filters to precisely match plastic molded or 3D printed mask covers,” he said, adding that the company had filed a patent for this product.
ThinCr, which has already started manufacturing on a commercial scale, has already distributed 6,000 virucidal masks to four public hospitals in Nandurbar, Nashik and Bengaluru as well as a girls’ school and college in Bengaluru through a NGO.