The HKSAR Government announced tighter COVID-19 measures to curb the pandemic as the Omicron strain made its way into the local community. To improve individual defenses against the pandemic, the public should remain attentive about maintaining good personal hygiene at all times. Currently, some public amenities, such as doorknobs in public restrooms and lift buttons, are filthy and can serve as breeding grounds for viruses and germs, providing a health risk.
The world’s first “anti-virus 3D printing material” (material) has been developed by an interdisciplinary research team from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), which can destroy the COVID-19 virus on surfaces as well as most common viruses and bacteria. The material’s major component is resin, which is mixed with anti-viral chemicals such as cationic compounds to disrupt the virus’s membrane and break its structure, killing the virus and bacteria.
Laboratory tests confirmed that the material can kill 70% of the COVID-19 virus and other viruses/bacteria surviving on a surface in two minutes, eliminate over 90% of viruses in ten minutes, and terminate almost all viruses and bacteria on a surface in 20 minutes.
This substance, according to Dr. Lo, is a resin with excellent anti-virus properties. It may be made in a variety of shapes and sizes using 3D printing technology to meet a variety of applications. As a result, it is extremely adaptable and may be deployed widely in public venues to give community-wide epidemic prevention assistance.
This technology and application have already been patented by the team, and it will be used for commercial reasons in the future. The research team has collaborated with the Home Affairs Department, the Hong Kong Wetland Park, and an environmental organization over the last year to produce recycling bin handles, toilet doorknob covers, lift buttons, braille boards, and other items with the help of PolyU’s University Research Facility in 3D Printing (U3DP) laboratory in order to conduct further tests and trials of the material’s effectiveness and durability in killing viruses.
Prof. Chi-wai KAN, a member of the research team and Professor at PolyU’s Institute of Textiles and Clothing, stated that the handle on the recycling bin is still in good condition after a year of use and that no COVID-19 virus, Escherichia coli, or Staphylococcus aureus have been detected on the handle’s surface.
He highlighted that this demonstrates that the material’s efficacy rate declines gradually after three years of use and that it is useful in fighting viruses and bacteria. Because the substance kills viruses by physical means, it can also eliminate mutant viruses. Prof. Kan further stated that because the material’s disinfection components are embedded rather than coated on the surface, a regular cleaning with disinfectants such as bleach does not damage its anti-virus efficacy.
The research team will also work with the Sham Shui Po District Office to develop doorknob protection covers for over 100 unmanaged “Three-Nil” buildings in the district, which will be installed on regularly used doors to limit the risk of viral transmission. The material will be used in basic and secondary schools, healthcare facilities, and public transit networks, according to the researchers.