IIT Kanpur-backed start-up to double production of indigenous N95 face mask

Topics IIT Kanpur | start-up | Coronavirus

Modi had worn the ‘Swasa’ mask during ‘bhoomi pujan’ of Lord Ram temple in Ayodhya
Kanpur-based Espin Nanotech Private Limited, a start-up incubated at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, is planning to more than double its face mask manufacturing capacity to 70,000 pieces a day.

The enterprise hogged the limelight after Prime Minister Narendra Modi was seen wearing its indigenously developed N95 face mask ‘Swasa’ during the ‘bhoomi pujan’ of Lord Ram temple in Ayodhya on August 5 (Wednesday).

Currently, Espin Nanotech is producing nearly 30,000 face masks a day from its production unit spread over 4,000 sq ft space inside the IIT Kanpur campus. It has now tied up with an Ahmedabad based entity to expand the capacity to 70,000 pieces a day, Espin Nanotech director Sandip Patil told Business Standard today.

“We have also tied up with Flipkart for marketing our product. Besides, we have recently launched a dedicated ecommerce site, swasa.in, to sell ‘Swasa’ face mask,” he informed.

"So far, the company has invested about Rs three crore in its production line and plans to invest another Rs three crore in the next 2-3 months to augment capacity,” Patil said adding the price of the face mask varied from Rs 60 to Rs 80 a piece depending upon the geography.

“This is an indeed a great moment for the company that the Prime Minister showed trust on us by wearing our indigenously developed ‘Made in India’ product during the auspicious occasion in Ayodhya,” he observed.

Anti-bacterial and anti-viral, ‘Swasa’ face mask is made of ultra soft fabric, which allows for easy breathing, provides adjustable ear loop and is claimed to be effective for 100 hours of usage.

“Now, we are planning to launch other categories of face mask, including self cleaning and odour removal masks. There is a plan to launch an affordable variety too,” he added.

Patil said the product was developed last year to offer protection against bacteria and viruses, much before covid-19 pandemic hit us. “In fact, we had started to market our face mask in November 2019, especially during the time air pollution had started to peak in Delhi. The company also made shipments to Thailand, Malaysia, European countries etc before the exports of medical safety products were banned with the spread of the coronavirus.

Patil noted there was still a lack of awareness among consumers regarding such products. “We only need a minimum layer but maximum capacity face mask rather than insisting on increasing the layers of the mask for added safety.”

Earlier, the Centre had turned to the premier research institutions, including the IITs, for developing tech-enabled solutions to deal with the covid-19 outbreak and come up with affordable safety gears, including masks. Over the past months, IIT Kanpur had taken the lead in coming up with several products, including face mask, ventilators etc.

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