After more than a year of research, a team of scientists at Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has developed a 3D printable antiviral material. According to the researchers, this new material would be able to effectively fight against Covid-19, regardless of the variant, as well as against other bacteria. While this project may be intriguing, it is not the first time this type of initiative has been developed. Last February, the AMFM (Additive Manufacturing Functional Materials) research group also unveiled a 3D printable antiviral material. But unlike the latter, which is made from metals, PolyU’s material incorporates resin.
Associate Professor of PolyU’s Institute of Textiles and Clothing, researcher Lo Kwan-Yu led the research. He stated, “70 percent of coronavirus can be eliminated within two minutes, according to laboratory tests, and over 90 percent can be killed after 10 minutes. All viruses and bacteria on a surface can be basically terminated in 20 minutes.” In the experimental phase, the scientists made toilet door handle guards as well as Braille elevator buttons to test the effectiveness of the material. And after a year of use in public places, no traces of the coronavirus or other bacteria were detected on these parts. Proof that the Hong Kong researchers have developed a material that is effective in the long term.
Lo Kwan-Yu (middle) and other team members showing parts designed from the antiviral material (photo credits: PolyU)
A material for public institutions
To design the material, the researchers added antiviral agents to resin, one of the most popular 3D printing materials. Unlike many materials, where the agents are coated on the surface, here they are embedded in the material to prevent cleaning agents from impairing the antiviral performance. The project members explain that, through additive manufacturing, they were able to produce parts of various shapes to meet different needs. Being able to be used in large-scale production, PolyU’s material is primarily intended for use in public facilities. In the coming months, the team of scientists will manufacture door handle covers for more than 100 buildings in Hong Kong and hopes to eventually equip schools, public transportation, and healthcare facilities.
Currently patent-pending, the researchers’ innovation is also notable for its low price. For example, the cost of producing an elevator button from the antiviral material would be $2.5. While many countries are still heavily impacted by Covid-19, PolyU’s antiviral material could quickly become essential due to its properties and the flexibility offered by 3D printing. You can find out more about it HERE.
A door handle made from the antiviral materia (photo credits: PolyU)
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*Cover Photo Credits: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University