The Elements of Innovation Discovered

Hack the pandemic with nano-copper

Tech company develops virus annihilating 3D printable masks Metal Tech News Weekly Edition – March 25, 2020

Series: COVID-19 | Story 2

Copper3D, a Chile-based tech start-up, is harnessing the power of copper, 3D printing and an open-source design to help ensure there are enough face masks to go around during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Working under the hashtag, "hack the pandemic," this innovation company has designed a N95 mask – a close-fitting respiratory device that filters at least 95% of very small particles – that can be printed with a patented material that has nano-copper additive that works as an antimicrobial agent.

"Studies have shown that copper destroys the replication and propagation abilities of SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and other respiratory viruses, having a high potential of air-disinfection in hospitals, communities, and households. Copper and copper alloy can also eliminate pathogenic organisms such as bacterial strains, coronavirus, influenza virus, HIV, and fungi after a short period of exposure," Copper3D penned in its patent description for its 3D printable mask.

Copper3D already makes Plactive, a 3D printing composite with a nano-copper additive has been lab tested and patented. This material is already being used to make casts, splints, wound dressing, as well as medical tools and devises. This material is also being evaluated by NASA for potential for interplanetary antimicrobial applications.

While Plactive has been lab tested in Chile and the United States, the 3D-printable mask design that uses this material is an emergency response to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

"Hospitals around the world are close to running out of N95 masks in the middle of the worst pandemic of 21st century!" Copper3D penned on its website. "Our purpose as a company has always been related to making a positive impact and tackle global challenges through innovation, nanotechnology and antimicrobial materials. Our purpose leads us to solve this problem in a low-cost, quick, and decentralized way through distributed manufacturing."

The respirator-style mask design of this mask dubbed NanoHack is available for anyone to download is printed in three pieces – mask, filter and filter cover – and then assembled and fitted for each mask to meet N95 standards.

Copper3D's Plactive polymer for printing these masks can be formed to fit any face shape at a temperature of 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (55 to 60 degrees Celsius). This means that a hairdryer or even hot water can be used to make the masks form fitting so that the only air reaching the nose and mouth comes through the filter.

This novel filtration system designed by Copper3D includes multiple layers with differing geometries to provide an effective fine particle filtration and included the copper nanocomposite that has been lab proven to deactivate viruses. In addition to the nano-copper system, the filtration system can house third party materials, made from sponges, clothing or other textiles.

Once printed and fitted, these masks will be reusable, washable and recyclable, which will help fill the ongoing need for N95 masks as well as reduce the waste and potential hazard of disposable masks that could carry COVID-19 for several days.

Copper3D admits that its NanoHack mask design has not been subjected to the rigors of trial testing that would normally go into a medical related product such as this. Instead, it is being released as a product that can play a role in the war on COVID-19.

"What it claims to be is a war time device, with characteristics of being made of tested and certified antimicrobial/antiviral material, in a distributed manufacturing model, reusable, recyclable, customizable, low-cost and open source manufacturing," the company wrote in an informational letter to those interested in NanoHack.

Copper3D said that one thing Chileans have learned in dealing with the powerful earthquakes that rock the country is that when a catastrophe happens, the speed of delivering aid trumps testing when it comes to saving lives.

"Many times, these aids are very smart and innovative solutions, which were developed in days (not years) and therefore they had not the time to go through long and complex regulatory processes," the company wrote.

Copper3D is inviting others to help improve the design and has reported positive feedback on this front. Engineering firms and others on social media have raised a call to help Copper3D refine the mask design. This concerted effort is being carried out under #HackThePandemic.

More information on NanoHack and the digital download for the N95 mask design can be found at

As of March 20, Copper3D had reported 2.5 million downloads of its NanoHack design in just two days.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Metal Tech News

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With more than 16 years of covering mining, Shane is renowned for his insights and and in-depth analysis of mining, mineral exploration and technology metals.


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