Research collaboration to deliver longer-life antiviral face masks and other PPE

Xefco metallic coatings. Image provided
Media Release IMCRC

Research into advanced textiles will soon deliver longer-life antiviral face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) that safeguard against infectious pathogens like COVID-19.

Advanced textile technology company Xefco and researchers at Deakin University have joined forces on a 10-month, $500,000 project with the support of the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC).

The project, now in its final stages, has improved the durability of already-developed antiviral and heat-reflective metallic coatings for textiles.

Tom Hussey, CEO at Xefco and lead of the research collaboration, said the outcomes of the research and development (R&D) were poised to increase the quality and longevity of antiviral masks and other critical PPE manufactured in Australia.

“By advancing the metallisation technologies, we have created a more durable textile for PPE that can be used over extended periods while providing improved protection against COVID-19 and other viruses,” he said.

“In addition to increasing the life of the product, our research has generated new possibilities for re-purposing the materials at the end of their life to create a circular supply chain and reduce the consumption of raw materials.”

Dr Alessandra Sutti, Associate Professor at Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM), said the project demonstrated the importance of knowledge translation that focused on extending product life and re-purposing existing materials.

“IFM’s researchers have made significant improvements to the durability of the materials” she said.

“These improvements include improved durability to laundering, disinfecting, aging and exposure to certain liquids, and are set to support the important move away from single-use PPE products.”

Dr Matthew Young, IMCRC’s Manufacturing Innovation Manager, stressed the importance of funding of relevant research and innovation, and in turn, foster the growth of Australia’s advanced materials manufacturing capability.

“The outcomes of this project will support the establishment and expansion of local textile materials and PPE manufacturing capability and increase the supply-chain availability of these critical products,” he said.

“This industry-focused R&D also positions Australia as a leader in advanced textile technologies, creating pathways for further collaborations and generating significant global export opportunities.”