Pune-Based Startup Develops 3D-Printed Masks that Inactivate Coronavirus
Pune-based start-up Thincr Technologies India Private Limited develops a novel type of mask which attacks the virus when viral particles come in contact with it by integrating 3D printing and pharmaceuticals. The company claims that these masks are coated with anti-viral agents known as virucides. The virucidal mask project is among the earliest projects to have been selected for commercialization by Technology Development Board (TDB), which a statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, as part of the Government’s fight against COVID-19.
The TDB had funded the project in May 2020 as a part of its search for novel solutions to fight COVID-19. The 2016-born Thincr claims that these cost-effective masks are more effective in controlling the spread of COVID-19, when compared with ordinary N-95, 3-ply and cloth masks.
The virucidal coated layer is infused on the mask as an additional layer in N-95 masks, 3-Ply masks, simple cloth masks, 3D printed or other plastic cover masks, alongside reusable filters. This extra layer results in an additional protection beyond the protection achieved by filtration mechanisms.
The additional layer of virucidal coating was tested to inactivate the SARS-COV-2 virus. The credit goes to the Sodium Olefin Sulfonate based mixture used for coating. The soap forming agent with hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties disrupts the outer membrane of the virus. The ingredients used are stable at room temperature and are widely used in cosmetics.
Commenting on the occasion, the founder director of Thincr Dr. Shitalkumar Zambad says, “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”.
The company has also revealed that the mask was developed with support from Merck Life Sciences located in Nerul, and their research facility was used in the process.
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.
Thincr has also applied for a patent for this product. While the commercial scale manufacturing has already been kick-started also started, 6,000 virucidal masks have been distributed by an NGO to four Government Hospitals in Nandurbar, Nashik and Bengaluru, for use by healthcare workers and also to a girls’ school and college in Bengaluru.