This Highly-Absorbent Nasal Swab Means Uncomfortable Covid-19 Tests Are Over Faster
But a company born from 3D printing research at MIT says it’s created a new type of swab that’s faster at absorbing samples, and better at releasing it for analysis.
After graduating, Ou continued his research at a company he founded, OPT Industries, which leverages his work at MIT to create new types of engineered materials for various applications—and in March of 2020, that turned out to be a better nasal swab, dubbed the InstaSwab.
Nasal swabs aren’t much more than an elongated Q-Tip featuring an absorbent tip made from materials like cotton, polyester, or foam and a handle made from wood, rolled paper, or even plastic.
Making matters worse is the fact that to ensure the absorbent material on the end collects enough of a sample, the swab has to stay buried in a patient’s nasal cavity for up to 15 seconds, prolonging the discomfort.During his time at the MIT Media Lab, Ou came up with new process for 3D printing complex microstructures necessitating the creation of new types of 3D printers and custom polymers that promised increased durability from incredibly tiny and intricate fibers.
That research allowed OPT Industries to design what it characterizes as a better nasal swab with a flexible polymer structure and a highly absorbent tip made from a tiny woven lattice.
The unique lattice structure is also faster at absorbing sample materials, which means a patient doesn’t necessarily have to endure 15 seconds of agony.