After delivering over one lakh face shields to police and medical personnel in Pune and other cities since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, the city-based Venture Centre has now come up with its own version of N95 face masks.
After successfully testing the masks on users at hospitals, the Centre began manufacturing them on Tuesday. Called MH12, the designing and manufacturing process of the mask was completed within two months. These masks will be donated to government hospitals and police, on priority.
V Premnath, director of Venture Centre, said these efforts are directed towards delivering the benefits of science and technology to people.
” At present, our manufacturing capacity is 5,000 MH12 masks, every day. If there is more demand, we can scale up the manufacture,” said Pravin Chavan, member of the Pune Masks Action Group at the Centre, who led the group that made MH12 masks.
A N95 mask is able to filter up to 95 per cent of harmful particles, aerosols or droplets in the air. As per international standards, the Particle Filtration Efficiency (PFE) of such a mask is at least 95 per cent. In India, the PFE is fixed at 94 per cent.
“There were two mask designs that were top contenders, one with a PFE of 96-97 per cent and another with 99 per cent. The latter was finalised for manufacturing purpose,” said Chavan.
Extensive research went into making the mask during the lockdown period. The team tested as many as 56 mask designs for their fitting and filtration capacity, and checked for leakages before finalising a variant.
The lockdown posed serious challenges, such as procuring raw material and ultrasonic machines, for the mask-making team.
“Unlike a cloth-based mask, which can be stitched using a sewing machine or by hand, N95 mask is manufactured with the help of an ultrasonic machine. These machines are not commonly available in India. Those available are of Chinese makes, which added to our many challenges in developing MH12. We not only developed masks but also developed machines needed to manufacture these N95 masks,” said Chavan.
Along with Venture Centre, which operates under the aegis of CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and Gwalior-based Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) provided support for the research for developing this mask.
Ultra Autosonic India has partnered with the Centre to manufacture and market these masks.
The Centre, under its Project Gratitude, plans to raise Rs 35 lakh, which will be dedicated towards providing MH12 masks to government hospitals in the coming months.
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