Moldable protective mask against coronavirus – a new design
The professor of mechanical engineering Kenji Shimada and the doctoral student Erica Martelly have developed a new design for a malleable protective mask. In the midst of the current corona crisis, there is a lack of such mouthguards, especially the very protective N95 mask. In response, an additive manufacturing and 3D printing company launched a competition. It’s called the Fit to Face Challenge. Participants were given a week to create a mask that would provide continuous contact for a variety of face types.
Practical mouldable protective mask designed
The design by Shimada and Martelly, referred to as a malleable mask, is unique in that respect. The product can be shaped to conform to the wearer’s face and form a seal to keep the virus out. Usually, Martelly’s research focuses on masks for sleep apnea, and more specifically, how to get a better fit. She had considered using hot water to make protective masks pliable for her research. When she was focused on fighting the coronavirus, this was a perfect opportunity to test your own idea.
The student knew that it is very difficult to create a shape that fits every face and is impervious. With that in mind, she and Professor Shimada both knew that a good element is to be able to customize the mask in an easy and quick way. They could do that with hot water and printing with a low melting point plastic. The malleable protective mask consists of two parts: the mask body and the filter cage. When heated, the plastic becomes pliable and the mask body can be adapted to the contours of the wearer’s face. Once a strap and small square of N95 filter material are added, the mask is ready to protect the wearer from coronavirus.
The idea for the design
The inspiration for the malleable protective mask came from the Montana mask, another 3D printed mask that preserves N95 material. Both masks allow more efficient use of N95 material. This means that an N95 mask can provide material for multiple uses in its designs. The Montana mask, however, is not malleable like the mask by Shimada and Martelly. In addition, Shimada and Martelly plan to make the design accessible to anyone with a 3D printer. They published their design on the university website along with the CAD data and instructions for hot water molding. As they improve on their design over the summer, the pair will update the information on the Internet so that medical institutions and individuals can freely create their bespoke versions.
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