The Mechanics of the Mini Sanitary Napkin Making Machine and its “Not So Mini” Contribution to Society
Written by Neha Mukherjee, '22
Edited by Ashley Nee, '22
Recent Oscar winning documentary Period. End of Sentence and Bollywood hit film Padman have brought light to the mini sanitary napkin making machine, an invention that has bettered the lives of thousands of women in developing countries. The lack of access to sanitary napkins due to cost and stigma plagues women around the world; it stops girls from completing their education, prevents women from furthering their professional goals, and stunts societal development. As stated by the documentary creators, “A period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education.”  Arunachalam Muruganantham, the creator of the mini sanitary napkin making machine states, “I want my technology to benefit people. I am a social-entrepreneur, selling the technology directly to the underprivileged women to empower them” .
His mini sanitary napkin making machine has revolutionized pad making in rural India and is spreading all over the world. Operating in four main stages, the machine has aided in increasing the efficiency of pad production. In stage one, four blades and a disk convert the wood fibre into a1 to 1.5mm filament “pulp” . Stage two creates the 24” x 24”x 24” shape by fitting the material in an aluminum mold, which is operated with a foot pedal . In part three, the pads are sealed, as they are wrapped with fabrics like polypropylene at a rate of 4-10 per minute . The final stage sterilizes the pads with UV lamps through short wave “Germicidal Erasing Lamps” .
In a country where only 12% of women were able to use pads and bad menstrual hygiene caused 70% of reproductive diseases , this technology was drastically needed.  The use of this machine has reduced the cost of making a pad to 1-1.5 Indian rupees - 70 rupees equate to one dollar .  The low cost of the machine paired with the employment of women to run and sell the technology and products has ensured the sustainability of the process. Each machine gives jobs to 10 women, and even more significant it instills the use of pads in 3,000 more women .  While the mechanics of the machine itself introduces novel ideas and creative thinking, it is the way the pad production and distribution is occurring that will ensure permanent change. This is not a short term fix: a developing country is not just being thrown money and people are not just being handed resources. This is instilling real progress in global health from the inside with the power to destroy the culture of stigma that surrounds menstrual health.
 Period. End of Sentence, the Pad Project, 2017
 Vasanti Venugopal VV, Shinu Abhi SA. A New White Revolution: Case Study of a Social Entrepreneur. South Asian Journal of Management [Internet]. 2013 [Cited date]; 147-148. March 10th 2019:
 Vibke Venima VV. The Indian Sanitary Napkin Revolution. BBC [Internet]. March 2014 [March 10th, 2019]. Available from: https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26260978