Saxon industrial research institutes join forces in the fight against corona

14. April 2020

Medical protective equipment is currently in short supply. Numerous members of the Sächsische Industrieforschungsgemeinschaft e. V. (SIG) support Saxon hospitals in the fight against corona to the best of their abilities.

Some SIG institutes, such as the ITW in Chemnitz, the ILK in Dresden, Cetex and STFI in Chemnitz and the IHD in Dresden, have been producing components for face visors using 3D printing since the end of March. A foil and an elastic band are manually attached to the 3D-printed plastic visor holders and the shields are ready for use. They are distributed free of charge to hospitals and nursing homes in the respective regions. “Thus, the IHD produces about 60 masks per day, which are very gratefully accepted by nurses and caregivers at the Dresden University Hospital and other municipal clinics,” reports Professor Steffen Tobisch (Institute Director of the IHD and Chairman of the SIG Board). Other member institutes are currently making their 3D printers ready for mask printing and will go into production in the next few days.

In order to produce fabrics for face masks, STFI in Chemnitz has converted its extrusion nonwovens test facilities to the production of fine fibre nonwovens (meltblown) and has been working at the limits of its capacity for over two weeks. Apart from several Saxon companies, customers include buyers all over Germany and increasingly also from other European countries.
As a so-called SMS structure, the meltblown nonwovens are processed in combination with spunbonded nonwovens to form protective masks, which are urgently needed in the course of the Covid19 pandemic. Because the material has very good filter efficiency, some customers have already achieved FFP2 quality for their masks. Recently, the nonwoven fabric produced by STFI was confirmed to have a bacterial filter efficiency of 99.5%.

There is also support from Freiberg. FILK Freiberg is currently participating in the development of a so-called “undemanding” ventilator. Professor Matthias Kroeger from the Institute for Machine Elements, Design and Production at the Bergakademie Freiberg is currently working in cooperation with the mine rescue team of the Reichen Zeche mine in Freiberg on a simple ventilation system similar to the one used in mining, which fulfils all essential functions, requires no electronics or electric drive and only works on compressed air or oxygen. FILK Freiberg supplies silicone-based elastomer membranes as sealing material for the prototypes, which are already being tested. If the devices pass the tests, flexible respiratory devices would be available that can be used independently of complex supply infrastructure.