Best in Category - Student Design 2020


Charlotte McCombe / Tanuj Kalra / Jui Deepak Apte

Aegis is designing a new medical gown for use in a hospital setting along with an integrated system of waste disposal

Global medical authorities are struggling to supply medical workers with crucial PPE and find sustainable solutions to increased medical waste. Long reaching global supply chains and increased use of disposable ppe has led to mass shortages, placing thousands of medical workers around the world in direct risk of infection. In response, Aegis is developing a ppe alternative that is completely bio constructed and biodegradable. Drawing from the unique properties of an Australian aquatic weed called Cumbungi, Aegis is designing a new medical gown for use in a hospital setting along with an integrated system of waste disposal.

Design Excellence

Through the use of emerging biotechnology and circular economy thinking, Aegis envisions an alternative model for a more resilient healthcare industry. Our design proposes a three-layered fabric sourced from a native Australina weed called Cumbungi.  Through a process of chemical retting, a thread with similar characteristics to cotton can be extracted from Cumbungi, which can then be woven to create the soft inner layer of the gown. The outer layers will be a made from bioplastic sourced from the roots of Cumbungi to give it a repellent finish.The result is a medical gown that is completely bioconstructed and biodegradable.

Design Impact

Working with this unique fabric, we have consulted with several medical professions to develop a new type of isolation gown. We discovered a range of pain points throughout our ideation process, and have responded with two concepts, which are outlined in the video. These designs will have to be prototyped and tested in hospital settings before further development, however we are confident that both the gowns and their packaging can be sourced from cumbungi and degrade quickly and safely.

Design Transformation

While we want to start Australia, Cumbungi is abundant across the world. The Aegis model has the potential to produce much-needed healthcare equipment to underserved countries, boosting local industry and decreasing hazardous waste.

Design Innovation

Our vision is to farm Cumbungi using recycled water at a number of locations across Australia, starting with Victoria. Through a network of factories supported by renewable energy sourced from the end-cycle of our own products, we believe we can provide a local solution to the global ppe crisis. Using a type of technology called anaerobic digestion, we plan to work with hospitals to collect used gowns and digest them into products such as biogas and fertiliser, which can go back into fuelling the operations of production or the daily operations of the hospital.

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