Since the coronavirus outbreak, a number of designers, scientists and manufacturers have joined the efforts against the spread of COVID-19. We’ve put together a few notable masks that could help people stay healthy, keeping themselves and others safe. Some of this information was first published in an article called COVID-19: Developing High Tech Protective Masks on the MedicalExpo e-Magazine news website, a sister media platform.
Create Cures: Conceptual Designs by Chinese Designers
A series of conceptual designs to combat the coronavirus by six Chinese designers in collaboration with Beijing’s Frank Chou Design Studios include two notable mask designs: Maskerchief by Chen Min and Buckle Masks by Above studio.
The Maskerchief combines the functional idea of a handkerchief—wiping and covering the nose—and the technical requirements of a mask to properly protect the user from catching an illness. It can be used as a handkerchief or it can be folded into a six-layer cotton gauze mask. Chen Min argues that while tissues have dominated in recent years over the use of handkerchiefs, there’s no sign of improved public hygiene.
Above studio identified two main issues with today’s masks: their life span and disposal process. This is why the designers made Buckle Masks with a built-in white filter that gradually turns black the more it absorbs bacteria and dust. Once the filter is completely black, the filter has reached the end of its life. The appropriate color for each of the four life stages is printed on the edge of the ventilation hole so that users can compare the color of the filter to its current life status. This will help the user know when to replace the filter.
“Made shoes yesterday. Making masks today.”
That’s the new slogan for New Balance who announced it will start manufacturing masks. The US manufacturing company is putting its skills to develop face masks to address the significant demand. Currently producing prototypes in its Lawrence, MA, manufacturing facility, the company hopes to scale production by using other New England factories soon.
“We are coordinating our efforts with our government officials and local medical institutions as well other US consortiums and testing facilities,” as written on the company website.
NanoHack 3D-Printed Mask
MedicalExpo e-Magazine recently wrote about the scientists from the University of Leicester in the UK who are developing a face mask made using 3D-printing that can test large groups of people for Coronavirus in thirty minutes.
The manufacturer of 3D printing materials Copper3D has just published an open-source STL digital file of an N95 respirator that could be 3D printed and protect against the COVID-19. The aim of this initiative, called Hack the Pandemic, is to mobilize manufacturers and printing services to make these respirators quickly available in order to tackle the lack of N95 masks (or FFP2) in the world and facilitate the work of healthcare professionals.
Copper3D claims that its NanoHack 3D-printed mask is antimicrobial, antiviral, reusable and recyclable—adding that single-use surgical masks and N95 respirators will have a detrimental effect on the ecosystem. The mask has a flat pattern to facilitate massive shipping all over the world. According to the company, it incorporates a modular fine particle filtration system with material using copper nanocomposite that is proven to deactivate viruses. The NanoHack also features a modular filtration disc that can regulate air intake and particle size.
Copper3D put the STL digital file online so that manufacturers could print it out and offer it to people that need it. The company said that behind NanoHack there was a lot of R&D with teams of scientists and industrial designers in the USA and Chile, and it put the original patent application documents online along with the assembly instructions. The manufacturers have to 3D print the pieces with 20 percent infill, without support or rafts.
ViriMASK Protective Oculo-Respirator
Scientists in Israel have designed a “protective oculo-respirator” that could be more efficient than an N95 (FFP2) mask while being more comfortable than a gas mask.
Totally covering the nose, mouth and eyes (while air can penetrate around N95 masks), the ViriMASK—which looks like something a SuperHero would wear—would use 0.1-micron filters while N95 masks would use 0.3-micron filters. The filters are multi-use and replaceable.
According to the company, the ViriMASK provides the ultimate protection against small particles, viruses including the COVID-19, bacteria and aerosols. Its main advantage compared to N95 masks would be preventing the inhalation of viruses and conjunctional contamination. It is also easy to wash and disinfect.
This innovative respirator comes with a price however: on the company website, it costs between $20 and $30.
You might like to read an article on how researchers are using nano-diamonds and salt to design a coronavirus-killing face mask.
Be sure to read the MedicalExpo e-Magazine article Which Masks Actually Protect Against Coronavirus?