COVID-19 has still not gone away and continues to affect the community in various ways. In addition to maintaining good personal hygiene, we should not overlook the potential risks of infection via public spaces and facilities. It’s possible for people to become infected if they touch surfaces contaminated with the virus or bacteria, and then touch their nose, mouth, or eyes. To minimise such risks, regular cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs in public toilets, handles and lift buttons etc. is essential.


Recently, an interdisciplinary research team from PolyU developed the world's first “anti-virus 3D printing material” (material) that can kill the COVID-19 virus on surfaces as well as most common viruses and bacteria. The main component of the material is resin, added with anti-viral agents such as cationic compounds, to damage the membrane of the virus and destroy its structure to kill the virus and bacteria.


“Laboratory tests confirmed the material can kill 70% of the COVID-19 virus and other viruses/bacteria surviving on a surface within two minutes; eliminate over 90% of viruses within 10 minutes; and terminate almost all viruses and bacteria on a surface in 20 minutes,” according to Dr. Kwan Yu Chris Lo, Associate Professor of PolyU's Institute of Textiles and Clothing. This means that even without regular disinfection, the surface of the material will automatically become “virus-free” in a short time – posing a much lower risk of surface virus transmission via touching in public areas.


With the support of the laboratory of PolyU’s University Research Facility in 3D Printing (U3DP), the research team has collaborated with the Home Affairs Department, the Hong Kong Wetland Park and an environmental organisation to produce recycling bin handles, toilet doorknob covers, lift buttons, braille boards and more, in order to conduct further tests and trials of the effectiveness and durability of the material in killing viruses. Prof. Chi-wai Kan, a member of the research team and Professor of PolyU’s Institute of Textiles and Clothing, added, “Even after use for a year, not only is the handle on the recycling bin still in good condition, no COVID-19 virus, Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus are detected on the handle’s surface.”


“This material is a resin material with high anti-virus performance. Using 3D printing technology, it can be produced in different forms catering to different needs. It is therefore highly flexible and can be used extensively in public facilities to provide epidemic prevention support to the community,” Dr Lo further remarked.