Now that we’re all covering our faces to avoid COVID-19, Israeli innovators are stepping up invention of antiviral masks, shields and stickers.
By: Abigail Klein Leichman
It seems like eons since ISRAEL21c first reported on two antiviral facemasks under development in Israel — but it was only January 28.
Since then, facemasks of all kinds have become part of everybody’s wardrobe due to the alarming spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
And in that short time, additional Israeli entrepreneurs and researchers have introduced facemask and face shield inventions we want to tell you about.
Let’s begin with an update on that first article highlighting washable masks from Sonovia and from Argaman. Each uses its own proprietary technology to embed microbe-killing metallic particles into textiles.
“We can produce now up to 3,000 masks per day,” Shay Hershcovici of Sonovia tells ISRAEL21c.
“We hired 120 unemployed factory workers to produce them at Kiryat Motzkin and we are donating the masks with the help of philanthropic supporters,” he says.
Healthcare facilities in Nahariya were among the first to receive a consignment of hundreds.
“This week we sent 400 masks to a teaching hospital in Germany and donated 400 to be distributed through [Israeli nonprofit aid organization] Latet. The Israeli police forces are receiving an unlimited supply. We have been given personal licenses to keep our offices and factories open and running so that we are able to work safely on this ardent mission.”
Sonovia was one of two Israeli companies (the other is CLEW) on Startus Insights’ list of the world’s top five impacting startups in the COVID-19 pandemic.
As for Argaman, founder and CEO Jeff Gabbay tells ISRAEL21c that one country has bought treated fabric from Argaman to make 1 million Bio-Block layered masks and other deals are in the works.
A slightly different approach is offered by MedCu Technologies, which leverages the antimicrobial properties of oxygenated copper to make advanced wound dressings.
Now, MedCu has signed a contract with Chinese Ministry of Health subsidiary Shanghai Medical Technology to manufacture and distribute copper-embedded facemasks.
The self-sterilizing, viral-deactivating facemask technology will also be marketed to other countries.
“Studies show that 99.99 percent of the viruses that came in contact with our mask were destroyed in only 30 minutes,” said MedCu microbiologist Gadi Borochov.
Facemask manufacturers can use MedCu’s copper-treated polypropylene fabric, made in Israel and elsewhere, as a replacement for the inner and outer layers of their products.
“It’s a plug-and-play technology that can be used to add antiviral properties to any surgical or N95 mask,” MedCu CEO and cofounder Danny Lustiger tells ISRAEL21c.
When the masks are disposed after wearing out – usually a few days – they pose no environmental hazard because any viral particles on them are neutralized.
MedCu is in discussions with other manufacturers around the globe and will open a factory in Israel to supply the local market.
“The demand today is endless,” says Lustiger. “The entire Western world is looking for masks now as a way for people to start going back to work while being protected from exposure to the virus.”
Antiviral sticker for surgical masks
A new antiviral sticker that attaches to regular surgical masks is being tested at Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, as we reported on April 2.
The 3D-printed “Maya” sticker contains nanometric fibers coated with antiseptics. They trap the viral particles and neutralize them.
The sticker was developed through a partnership between Prof. Eyal Zussman of the Nano-Engineering Lab at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Dr. Dan Greenstein’s COVID-19 National Emergency Team of the Defense Ministry’s Directorate of Defense R&D, in collaboration with Dr. Samer Srouji, chief of oral surgery at Galilee Medical Center.
“This is an available and fast solution based on sophisticated technology. We hope that the pilot project will succeed and that this unique innovation will be introduced to many other hospitals around the country,” said Srouji.
Preorders are now being accepted for the ViriMASK Protective Oculo-Respirator we reported about on March 15.
Developed by Israeli physician and serial medical-device inventor Dr. Noam Gavriely, ViriMASK is strapped around the head, covering the eyes with a see-through visor and the nose and mouth with a filtering mechanism that blocks viruses including COVID-19.
The wearable part can be washed or disinfected for reuse. The filters must be replaced after 12 hours of use and disposed into a special envelope containing disinfectant.
On April 5, Gavriely’s company opened a factory in Tirat Carmel to produce the filters. Preorders should start shipping at the end of April. A grant from the Israeli Innovative Authority will help expedite commercialization.
Each mask costs $69, including a pack of two filters and disposal envelopes. Additional filter-envelope packs of 10 cost $39. Two sizes (for men and women) are available.
Gavriely tells ISRAEL21c that our article led to inquiries from many countries, including Bangladesh and Tanzania.
3D-printed face shields for healthcare workers
Reusable 3D-printed face shields for healthcare workers are now being manufactured through a philanthropic initiative of 3D printing firm Stratasys, co-headquartered in Rehovot (Israel) and Minnesota.
Made of biocompatible materials, the adjustable shields can be disassembled, disinfected and sterilized between uses.
Stratasys formed a coalition with more than 150 US companies and universities to fill requests for hundreds of thousands of shields from hospitals and other healthcare organizations. The first hospital shipment went out on March 25.
In Israel, the protective face shields are being made in partnership Synergy3DMed, IT company Matrix and plastics manufacturer Su-Pad.
Stratasys made the design files public so that the face shields can be produced anywhere. For the longer term, Stratasys is developing antiviral facemasks that will meet regulatory guidelines.
Another philanthropic 3D-printed face shield initiative was launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by Massivit 3D Printing Technologies of Lod in partnership with its more than 100 customers and distributors worldwide.
Massivit 3D’s unique, high-speed additive manufacturing technology can produce 200 shields in every eight-hour shift.
Massivit face shields are currently being produced for healthcare workers in Italy, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, the United States, Canada, Belgium, Thailand and Australia. Partners in the project receive a free supply of Massivit’s proprietary 3D printing gel.
Like Stratasys, Massivithas made public the optimized 3D print files for its face shields.
“We became aware of the dire shortage of personal protective equipment worldwide and the urgent need to help medical teams protect themselves,” said Massivit 3D’s CEO, Erez Zimerman.“Our team is proud to be able to offer significant help during this difficult period. All our efforts are now dedicated to this cause.”