6 May 2021

Media Release

Australian start-up Xefco’s world-first antiviral fabric technology commences mask production in Europe

Australian materials technology company Xefco has developed a ground-breaking antiviral technology which is currently being used in the production of facemasks by Swiss company and antimicrobial textile leader, HeiQ.

The patent-pending technology developed by Xefco, MetalliX™, is the world’s first thin-film antiviral copper treatment for textiles. Studies conducted by the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute) showed material treated with the technology to inactivate Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that has caused the COVID-19 pandemic, in as little as five minutes.

“The rapid efficacy of the coating treatment is unprecedented. MetalliX destroys the virus within minutes whereas other existing treatments can take hours. We are incredibly excited to see the first use of the MetalliX technology in real-world applications that will help fight against this devastating virus where minutes actually count,” said Tom Hussey, CEO and Co-Founder, Xefco.

Researchers from the Doherty Institute exposed MetalliX™ treated textiles to known infectious concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 for incremental periods of time before extracting and measuring the remaining infectious virus titre. The results showed that MetalliX™ treated textiles deactivated the SARS-CoV-2 virus by 97.79% within five minutes and 99.95% within 15 minutes with no infectious virus detectable on the textiles after 30 minutes.

“MetalliX™ can be applied to a broad range of materials including those that are difficult to treat using conventional finishing methods, unlocking new possibilities for personal protective equipment (PPE), medical textiles and air filtration aiding in the defence against COVID-19. Mask production is just the start - we hope to roll out the coating treatment onto other critical materials such as surgical gowns, drapes and curtains as well as air filters in hotels, planes and restaurants,” said Mr Hussey.

Xefco specialises in innovative coating technologies for the textile industry. Since its founding in 2018, Xefco’s technologies have been implemented by some of the largest brands in the fashion and outdoor apparel markets. At the onset of the pandemic, the business identified an opportunity to leverage its proprietary coating technologies to develop highly effective antimicrobial treatments.

“Our team of experts continue their vital work to minimise the impact of the novel coronavirus,” Dr Julie McAuley, Senior Research Officer at the Doherty Institute, stated, “Testing the ability of different surface treatments to reduce infectivity of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is one way that our research can help provide insights toward helping to stop the spread of COVID-19,” she added.

Throughout the development of the MetalliX technology, Xefco worked with long-standing research partner the Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) at Deakin University as part of the world-class ARC Research Hub for Future Fibres. Xefco is also collaborating with HeiQ Materials AG, Switzerland, a global leader in antimicrobial fabrics and textile chemicals to commercialise materials and medical devices incorporating the technology. Xefco will continue to roll out the technology to new manufacturers and product applications.

About MetalliX™

Formerly known as XViroblock™, MetalliX™ is a world-first copper-based textile treatment and coating process that provides rapid antiviral and antibacterial functionality to textiles. MetalliX™ can be applied to a broad range of textile materials including Polypropylene and Polyester non-woven fabrics commonly used in PPE, filtration, and other equipment. While highly visible, the coatings are nano-thin and cover the surfaces of the individual filaments providing maximum functional surface area without changing the physical properties of the textile or increasing its mass.

About Xefco®

Xefco is an Australian-owned company that creates innovative textile and coating technologies. Leveraging a global network of research partners, Xefco develops advanced manufacturing solutions and applies cutting edge materials science with a focus on functional improvements, sustainable manufacturing and reduced resource consumption. Incorporated in 2018, Xefco’s technologies are now used by some of the world’s leading technical apparel and fashion brands, providing proven functional benefits, enhanced performance, comfort and protection with reduced environmental impact. Xefco continues to expand its technology portfolio with a vision to create a more sustainable future for the textile and garment industries.

About HeiQ

Founded in 2005 as a spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) and listed on the London Stock Exchange Main Market (LSE:HEIQ), HeiQ is a leader in textile innovation creating some of the most effective, durable and high-performance textile technologies on the market today. HeiQ’s mission is to improve the lives of billions of people through pioneering textiles and materials innovation. Combining three areas of expertise – scientific research, specialty materials manufacturing and consumer ingredient branding – HeiQ is the ideal innovation partner to create differentiating and sustainable textile products and capture the added value at the point of sale. With a total capacity of 35,000 tons per year HeiQ manufactures in the USA, Switzerland and Australia supplying its specialty chemical products in over 60 countries worldwide.

About the Doherty Institute

Finding solutions to prevent, treat and cure infectious diseases and understanding the complexities of microbes and the immune system requires innovative approaches and concentrated effort. This is why the University of Melbourne – a world leader in education, teaching and research excellence – and The Royal Melbourne Hospital – an internationally renowned institution providing outstanding care, research and learning – partnered to create the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute); a centre of excellence where leading scientists and clinicians collaborate to improve human health globally.

About Deakin University:

The Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) is a leading materials science research institute at Deakin University, Australia. With about 300 academics and HDR researchers, IFM’s vision is to lead and inspire innovations in materials science and engineering that have a transformational benefit to society. Established in 1974, Deakin is one of Australia’s most progressive and agile universities, leading in the innovative use of digital technologies and online learning, and blending this capability across its distinctive campus precincts in Melbourne, Geelong and Warrnambool. Deakin has achieved a balance of high quality research with an education experience that is consistently rated as one of the best in the country. Ranked among the Top 1 per cent of universities in the world, Deakin’s collaborations emphasise mutually beneficial partnerships and real-world impact in areas of high national priority, including health and wellbeing, smarter technologies, sustainability, advancing society and culture, and building safe and secure communities.