With the unprecedented rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, wearing masks outdoors is being mandated by Government of India and World Health Organisation (WHO). The need for production and availability of masks for arresting the spread of the pandemic is monumental, in order to ensure good health and well-being of people.
A team of professors from various institutions of Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) – Department of Design, Manipal School of Architecture and Planning and Department of Aeronautical & Automobile Engineering, MIT – joined hands to develop effective, affordable and reusable masks. Aligned with the values of UN Sustainable Development Goals, this is a step towards enhaning protection against COVID-19 and simultaneously reducing pollution arising due to careless discarding of masks.
The objective of the project is two-fold: firstly, to design a multi-layer mask keeping in mind sustainable materials and comfort of the wearer, and secondly, to involve compassionate people who are ready to contribute in developing masks. The project has been under expert advice from Dr Anoop Venkat Rao, Stanford Medical School, USA and Dr. Sharath Rao, Dean, KMC, Manipal.
With the aid of collaborative platforms such as Microsoft Teams, various faculty members located in different parts of the country connected online to discuss suitable eco-friendly materials and deliberate on feasible designs that could be developed with the support of volunteers from MSAP-MIT faculty club. The in-depth brainstorming and ideation resulted in a three-layer, no-sew, washable cloth mask, which can be prepared by anyone possessing minimal skills and involving less lead time. The design ensures maximum coverage over the face and neck of the wearer. Minimal sewing is incorporated at the corners to increase the longevity of the mask. 5000 masks are produced and distributed to the supporting staff of Manipal Academy of Higher Education.