On 29 November 2020, the Council for Research, Development and Innovation awarded scientists from the Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics at the Czech Technical University with an honorary award for their scientific contribution to solving the COVID-19 epidemic in a global context. Vít Dočkal, head of the CIIRC CTU project office, accepted the award for a team of scientists who developed and certified the CIIRC RP95-3D protective half mask in a very short time in the spring of the “Česká hlava” gala evening. Other team members who have prepared and certified a protective device with the highest degree of protection (CE) are Alexandr Lazarov, Pavel Burget, Jaroslav Lískovec and Petr Kadera.
The award-winning mask, which was created within the RICAIP Center of Excellence (Advanced Industrial Production), is produced using 3D printing, data sheets for printing have been freely licensed to 30 countries and more than 100 institutions, including the US Navy and NATO. Further development of the mask was transferred to the spin-off company TRIX Connections, thanks to which it was possible to develop a mask for serial production in parallel and complete the entire technology transfer. The mask is manufactured under license by CARDAM.
“We very much appreciate the award of the Research, Development and Innovation Council. The development of the mask showed two very important issues for Czech science and industry. The first was the very fast and innovative approach of our scientists, who addressed the lack of critically important protective equipment at a record pace, which also helped science as such in the eyes of Czech society. The second is highly effective cooperation between science and industry – fast transfer from idea to serial production, involvement of dozens of companies, their know-how or production capacities,” says CIIRC CTU director Ondřej Velek. “I would like such transfers not to remain unique in the Czech Republic because this is the right way for the added value of Czech industry, which is being called for intensively,” adds Velek.
“At the beginning, our motivation was quite simple: to try to use the just imported 3D printers within the European Center of Excellence for Industry 4.0 (RICAIP) and try to help Czech healthcare professionals who lacked protective equipment,” explains Vít Dočkal, one of the main members of the award team. “We still can’t believe what a huge positive response we have had. Thank you to everyone who helped us at the time – especially the team from the University of West Bohemia, 3Dees Industries and 3DTech. Siemens and Škoda Auto were then among the first to provide their capacities and print masks on special 3D printers.”
The RP95-M respirator – mass-produced by plastic injection – subsequently became one of the few protective devices developed in response to the coronavirus crisis, which was put into series production and obtained CE certification, which is valid not only in the European Union but in many other countries. of the world. The mask can be used repeatedly, thanks to proven sterilization and disinfection procedures.
“I am extremely pleased with the success of a purely Czech respirator, in which a number of domestic entities participated. Once again, it has become clear that Czech innovative solutions have global potential and that we can be imaginative and self-sufficient even in tense situations,” says Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček. “In the spirit of the Innovation Strategy, it is thus a great example of technology transfer with great export potential.”
The CIIRC CTU team did not stay with this single activity related to COVID-19 assistance. Once again, in cooperation with the CTU TRIX Connections spin-off, it offered hospitals and regions a solution for online monitoring of hospital bed capacity or is developing innovative mask filters with Spur. Their advantage will be a unique nanomaterial and at the same time an order of magnitude lower price compared to the standard filters.
The Council for Research, Development and Innovation, which awarded the award, is a professional and advisory body of the Government of the Czech Republic. The award is one of the highest that can be obtained in the Czech Republic.