A new 3D printed antiviral material to fight against Covid-19
Though Covid-19 has plunged the world into an unprecedented health crisis, it has at least allowed additive manufacturing to show the general public what benefits it can bring to society. Since the beginning of the pandemic, innovations to fight against the virus have rapidly increased, and little by little, 3D printing is establishing itself as an indispensable technology. The researchers at the University of Wolverhampton certainly are not going to dispute that fact. The research group AMFM (Additive Manufacturing Functional Materials) has developed a new 3D printed antiviral material that reportedly kills Covid-19.
Made from silver, copper and tungsten, this antiviral material should be able to reduce contagion rates. The combination of these three elements, each with antimicrobial properties, would make it possible to combat surface contamination and limit the aerial spread of the virus. John Robinson, researcher at the University of Wolverhampton explains: “Our antiviral material displayed a 100% viral inactivation within five hours against a biologically-safe sample of COVID-19. This is a significant improvement on the previous copper coating results as all of the COVID-19 virus is eliminated.“ To achieve this impressive result, the research group used laser powder bed fusion.
3D printing challenges Covid-19 once again
John Robinson and his team hope that their new antiviral material will be applied in many situations. As a first step, the scientists aim to develop open-source 3D printed masks from the antiviral material, in order to democratize their innovation as much as possible. And the research team does not want to stop there. They then want to multiply the number of application cases to actively fight against the pandemic. All the more so since laser fusion on a powder bed offers a certain flexibility to the scientists especially in terms of part geometries, allowing them to constantly improve on their model.
This timing of the arrival of this material is apt, as the World is learning how to grapple with the spread of variants of the virus. The UK and South African variants especially have lead international health officials to increase protection measures. Though it is still uncertain to what extent these variants affect the severity of the disease, they have proven to spread more easily and it is clear that innovations to help stop the spread are necessary. To solve this issue, combining 3D printing with an antiviral material seems to be an extremely effective solution. As Robinson concludes, “As the pandemic continues to evolve, various situations are likely to appear unpredictably. To enable an immediate response and rapid solution, we created an antiviral material that could be 3D printed and therefore can create antiviral surfaces when and where they are needed.”
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