LITEK™ members in the fight against the virus
One of the biggest societal challenges in the fight against the COVID-19 virus is its rapid spread. Confrontation with the virus affects not only public health, security, but also the education system and the economy as a whole. So far, a large proportion of infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, measles, etc., have been found to spread by airborne droplets. A virus that froze whole world is not the exception.
The virus can lurk in the air
According to the head of Department of Environmental Research of Center for Physical Sciences and Technology (FTMC) dr. Steigvilė Byčenkienė, a healthy person emits (emits) aerosol particles and droplets of various sizes from 0.01 to 500 μm when breathing, coughing, sneezing and talking. The SARS-CoV2 virus ranges in size from 0.060 to 0.140 μm, but when released into the ambient air, the virus particles adhere to airway secretory droplets or aerosol particles. The essential difference between droplets and aerosol particles is their size, which determines the rate at which the particles settle (the length of time the infection persists in the air). The size of the aerosol particles also determines their behavior and the location of deposition in the airways. The smaller the particle, the easier it enters the alveoli of the lungs. Thus, when there is a high risk of becoming infected with a dangerous virus, ways are being sought to protect against it. One such way is to cover your face with a mask, goggles or a protective shield.
LITEK™ synergy of science and business in the fight against COVID-19 virus
The members of Laser and Engineering Technologies Cluster (LITEK™) together with partners have developed a robotic laser system for cutting face shields, which has accelerated the work as much as 32 times. The system was developed using a CO2 gas laser in the production of PET plastic panels. It is one of the examples of close and operative cooperation between science and business in the laser and engineering technology sector. It took just a few days to find and implement the solution.
With the sudden spread of the pandemic around the world and the lack of basic protection measures, various industries began to look for opportunities to adapt their production processes and contribute to the fight against the spread of the virus. One of them is JSC Terekas, a company that manufactures equipment for the production of PET packaging and companies. plastic bottles. The company decided to change the shape of the PET plastic 5L bottle to cut two panels, but faced the problem that manual cutting takes a lot of time (about 4 minutes per bottle), the edges are sharp and uneven, so it decided to contact LITEK™ members. Protective shields of high quality PET plastic, widely used in industry, have been recognized as an effective protective device. Such shields protect the entire facial area from airborne harmful bacteria and viral infections, including COVID-19.
The selected CO2 gas laser generates far-infrared light with a wavelength close to 10 µm, which is very well absorbed by a clear plastic polymer
The members of the LITEK™ cluster – FTMC and JSC ELAS, together with their partners JSC Elinta Robotics, have joined forces to achieve incredible results. In just three days, he devised how to optimize the production of plastic face shields by applying a CO2 gas laser to plastic cutting and implementing it in production. “We managed to achieve a total production cycle time of 15 seconds. Our laser system, developed with our partners, cuts the protective face shield in 7.5 seconds. This is a really high speed, which allows us to quickly and efficiently produce many high-quality, all-in-one protection against the spread of the virus, ”- said the Head of Department of Laser Technologies of FTMC dr. Gediminas Račiukaitis.
Protective face shields cut with FTMC lasers are used by Klaipėda region physicians and tested in Kaunas clinics. The first shipment should travel to Italy, the EU country most affected by coronavirus.
Photo by JSC Terekas