There is a worldwide shortage of personal protective materials for healthcare professionals due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two new reusable face masks for medical staff who are caring for and treating COVID-19 patients have been developed by teams of anaesthesiologists, universities and a consortium of companies, all supporting on a not-for-profit basis.
These designs may help solve the global shortage of face masks and improve safety for healthcare professionals, especially during intubation and intensive care procedures where the risk of infection is highest.
Both masks use a unique 3D printed connector to link a popular snorkel mask to a filter system.
The COVID Lifesaver Mask uses a high-performance filter used in anaesthetic equipment to create a low-cost, easy to use system for short duration use.
The Air-Wave Protector solution uses an industrial fan & filter unit to create a personal protection unit for use of longer duration.
COVID Lifesaver Mask
Combining a popular full-face snorkel mask with a high-performance filter used in anaesthetic equipment and ventilators made it possible to develop a reusable face mask for healthcare workers that is safer than the commonly used FFP2 mask. This prototype has undergone clinical testing to rule out carbon dioxide intoxication. The anaesthetic filter used has already been validated to have a capacity to block 99,999% of viruses and bacteria. The solution is currently being developed further to reduce the possibility of inward air leakage.
The Air-Wave Protector is a combination of the same snorkel mask connected with a custom 3D printed connector to a medical-grade filter and an air pump used in the welding industry for personal protection. The air pump creates a positive pressure in the mask, potentially reducing air leakage and promoting the ease of breathing. Preliminary testing indicates that the solution provides better protection than the commonly used FFP2 masks.
Safety and comfort
A team of healthcare professionals tested the snorkel mask used in both solutions and found it to work well. Glasses can be worn and the mask allows for communication with patients and co-workers. The reusable mask can be decontaminated by healthcare facilities using readily available cleaning methods.
The designs of the solutions are “open-source” which means they can be freely copied and used to support healthcare professionals worldwide. The design of the 3D-printed connectors created by the TU Delft will be available through “thingiverse.com”, a global website to share 3D print designs.
While some aspects of the solutions are still in development and testing continues, the groups have decided to share their designs and progress widely. Royal Dutch Shell has already started printing COVID Lifesaver connectors in its Technology Center in Amsterdam and offered its full cooperation to contribute to the solutions that are being developed.
How it started
The history of the COVID Life Safer Mask and Air-Wave Protector is a unique story of ingenuity and collaboration in times of crisis. The not-for-profit initiative has brought together different groups (anaesthesiologists, universities, companies and volunteers) who had similar ideas to help healthcare professionals battle COVID-19. With amazing passion, they have come together to develop solutions in a short period of time.
The “COVID Lifesaver Mask” and “Air-Wave Protector” are being developed by a support network, consisting of
- A independent group of anaesthesiologists working in Haaglanden Medisch Centrum (HMC), The Netherlands
- Delft University of Technology
- Royal Dutch Shell
- Air-wave.org, a not-for-profit group initiated by Damen Shipyards, Blue Orange Wave, Redgrasp and VFA Solutions with support of a large international group of specialists and innovative companies
COVID Lifesaver Mask: www.COVIDlifesavermask.com
Air-Wave Protector: www.air-wave.org
The 3D-printed connector 3D print design can be found on the respective websites.
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