In the wake of an acute shortage of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) for healthcare professionals across the country, there has been a critical need for the availability of easily manufacturable face masks. Necessity proved to be the mother of the invention once again as the Ignition Lab team of IIT Bombay created a DIY (do-it-yourself) mask using locally available materials like bedsheets and sewing machines. The first batch of 150 masks was provided to faculty, office staff, and workers who were unable to procure them from medical shops due to immediate shortage.

“We standardized the process of mask making, and our team has created DIY videos in nine languages”, said Prof. Kumaresan, who is coordinating the project and is also the head of the Ignition Lab, which is a part of the Desai Sethi School of Entrepreneurship (DSSE) and the IDC School of Design. The efforts of the team are indeed commendable as this project of theirs has come to the aid of several Institute personnel. Nearly 2000 masks were distributed to IIT security, IIT Hospital, campus residents, and local shop-keepers. They also supplied 500 masks to police personnel in Sakinaka and other stations, 500 to KEM hospital, and 12,000 to other front-line workers through local NGO volunteers. The manufacturing and supply of this huge number of masks were done by Eco-style, a local garment company approached by the institute team.

Mass manufacturing of the DIY face masks

Here’s a link to the playlist consisting of multiple videos to assist in the making of different versions of the face masks, uploaded on the IIT Bombay Official Channel on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvpEAP5NefpR-aDcsHZUBI-nmRfxqmd9x.

A couple of clicks from the distribution drive

Prof. Kumaresan, along with researchers in the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering and BETIC Lab, is also developing several other solutions. These include mask sterilizer using ultraviolet light, face shields as part of PPE (personal protection equipment), bed veil around patient beds, and aerosol boxes to disinfect doctors examining the patients.

The joint team certainly deserves a huge amount of appreciation for their undying efforts to aid the several frontline workers who are risking their lives for the sake of our safety. Their success can prove to be a life-saving boon for healthcare professionals all across the country down the line with their exceptionally innovative design.