There is an urgent global need for coated anti-viral medical textiles used in the construction of facemasks to combat COVID-19 transmission. The UK Government, through an Innovate UK Grant has supported Alchemie in the development of Novara; a precision digital coating product to apply protective coatings to medical textiles.

Dr. Simon Kew, Managing Director of Alchemie describes the benefit of this new technology, “Currently facemasks are largely ineffective at protecting the user.  At best, it reduces the risk of the wearer from passing on an infection.  An active anti-viral coating on the outer surface, designed to inactivate the virus on contact protects the wearer from an infection.  This delivers important protection for consumers and to the frontline care and nursing community”. 

Kew added, “Novara can selectively pattern high value anti-viral coatings, putting the coating only where it is needed, keeping the costs down. It can also deliver two-sided coating and can, for example, also deliver a water repellent coating on the surface next to the mouth so the face mask does not become uncomfortable.  All of this can be achieved through our breakthrough digital Novara technology at a reduced cost compared with traditional methods of applying coatings”.   

The global demand is expected to be high and rapidly growing, with an urgent need for at least 20 million facemasks per day to address the current COVID-19 pandemic.  Alchemie understood the need to respond and accelerated developments of the technology.

“We wanted to get involved and understand what the care industry needed”, Dr. Alan Hudd, Chairman of Alchemie commented,  “We supplied China with PPE suits during the original epidemic and more recently helped Century Healthcare secure 10,000 face masks in the UK.  We saw first-hand the problem and knew what we had to do.  This spurred our technical team on to produce Novara in record time and now to develop a capability of dispensing anti-viral coatings onto medical textiles.  We are grateful to the UK Government for their support”. 

Mrs. Lorraine Matta, owner of Century Healthcare commented, “The past few months have been the most challenging times I have ever experienced.  Supplies of PPE have been desperately low, and I would like to thank all my staff for their extreme professionalism, kindness, and care and to my residents for the way they have understood the restrictions.  We have been helped out by companies, including Alchemie, and it is very encouraging to see a UK company take the initiative to develop a national strategic response for the future”.

Alchemie’s Novara digital precision coater is used for two-sided anti-viral and water-resistant textiles. The materials are used in facemasks for both contact viral inactivation and reduction in moisture uptake to ensure good hygiene. Novara allows a wide variety of materials and chemistries to be applied to different substrates in 2D patterns for a range of medical and technical textiles.

Novara coating technology can be used by manufacturers for low-cost, on demand in-line facemask products. Novara has already successfully applied HeiQ Viroblock NPJ03 technology with precision to medical textiles. Novara is a non-contact digital on-demand process and delivers product only where it is needed, on either one or two sides, with precise resolution, reducing run lengths, enabling rapid changeovers and delivers the ultimate flexibility in technical textile manufacturing.

About Century Healthcare

Century Healthcare is a highly recognised premium care company based in the North West of England, incorporating eight care homes.  Over the last twenty years, Century Healthcare has been proud to provide a full range of services within nursing, dementia, and residential requirements.  The emphasis and belief of a highly dedicated team that has always delivered a high standard of care in exceptional surroundings, where people can truly make their stay, home from home.

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