After delivering over one lakh face shields to police and medical personnel in Pune and other cities since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, Pune’s Venture Centre has now come up with its own variant of N-95 face masks.
Called MH12, the concept, design, and manufacture was completed within two months and the team is now gearing up to donate these masks to government hospitals and police, on priority.
The name N95 is given to the mask as it is able to filter up to 95 percent of the 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. However, in India, the PFE is fixed at 94 per cent.
The MH12 masks have a PFE of 99 per cent, Venture Centre said. “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 Pravin Chavan, member of the Pune Masks Action Group at the Centre, who led the group making MH12. He also said the present manufacturing capacity of 5,000 MH12 masks can be scaled up if there is more demand.
Extensive research went into this making of this mask during the lockdown period. As many as 56 mask designs for their fitting, filtration capacity and checked for leakages before finalising a variant, Venture Centre, an incubation centre operating under the aegis of CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory said.
The name reflects the Pune origins of the mask as well as the commitment and gratitude of the people of Pune to the commitment of the frontline COVID fighters, the team said. After successful testing masks with users at hospitals, Venture Centre began manufacturing on Tuesday. V Premnath the director at Venture Centre said the company’s efforts are towards delivering the benefits of science and technology to the common people.
Lockdown posed serious challenges to the mask making team and among these included procurement of raw materials and Ultrasonic machines.
“Unlike a cloth-based mask which can be stitched using a sewing machine or by hand, an N95 can be 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,” added Chavan.
Along with Venture Centre, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Baba Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and Gwalior-based Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) supported with 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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