From Technion to the Production Line

The ‘Maya’ sticker, which enhances the protection of surgical masks worn by medical personnel, has gone into mass production at Kibbutz Ein Harod.

In late March, the Technion announced one of the first personal protective equipment (PPE) developments for protecting medical teams from COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Comprised of a nanofiber sheet, the unique sticker can be easily adhered to a protective mask, significantly improving its effectiveness against the novel coronavirus. With an agreement now in place, mass production of the “Maya” sticker has begun in Israel.

The sticker was developed under the leadership of Professor Eyal Zussman of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the Technion, under the clinical guidance of Professor Samer Srouji, the director of the Maxillofacial Surgery Department, at the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya.

Prof. Zussman, an expert on the development of nanometer fibers for various uses, mobilized his knowledge to create a sticker based on a nanofiber sheet to improve the protection capability of protective masks against the novel coronavirus. Due to its tiny size – 130 nanometers – the virus can penetrate a standard protective mask, where the pores between fibers are comparatively large, in the order of hundreds of microns. The nanoscale pores of the sticker prevent the virus from penetrating the mask, and the researchers incorporated biocides into the fiber sheet that neutralize trapped viruses within a few seconds.

An important milestone was recently reached with the signing of an agreement between the Technion and the DYKAM printing plant in Kibbutz Ein Harod. The agreement will enable the innovative sticker to be available to medical staff and the general public with exclusivity agreements to countries such as Canada, Japan, and Spain. The product has been approved by the authorities in Israel (Medical Equipment Division of the Ministry of Health), and is expected to be approved by the authorities in the United States (FDA) and Europe (CE) soon.

The agreement with Kibbutz Ein Harod will not only accelerate the availability of Maya to hospitals and the general public, but may provide the DYKAM paper plant with significant business momentum. The factory, established in 1982, produces various paper products, including thermal papers for medical monitors, transportation cards, boarding passcards, leisure and entertainment cards, and more. However, the pandemic has led to severe financial distress. Some of the key markets the plant relies on were hit hard, sales fell by 50%, and about a quarter of the company’s workers were dismissed.

Now, following the commercialization agreement for the manufacturing of the innovative Maya sticker, DYKAM operations will enter high gear. The plant management hopes the new production line will be just the first of many new lines of profit and activity.