Materialise, using its certified machinery park, actively supports hospitals in which the demand for both personal protective and specialized medical equipment is increased. The company has presented two projects so far, one of which is a simple element for personal 3D printing, which makes it easier to open the door without using your hand. The second one is a project that required more work and specialized knowledge from specialists at Materialise – a model of the clamp used when using respiratory distributors, which allows the pressure and flow to be adjusted to the needs of the patient’s health. Now, Materialise engineers have started designing an oxygen mask that can be created with standard personal protective equipment using a 3D printed element: Materialise NIP Connector – the 3D printed oxygen mask.

The mask is the Belgian engineer’s response to the problem of the growing demand for respirators. Their design involves the use of hospital equipment elements and 3D printed parts and allows the creation of positive end-tidal pressure, which improves patient ventilation and prevents collapse of the alveoli. As they explain, their solution can help ventilate non-serious patients who do not require a ventilator connection.

A key element of the device’s construction is the PEEP valve, which is part of the standard equipment of hospitals, which allows you to maintain a certain pressure in the lungs during exhalation. In addition, the Materialise design uses a standard non-invasive ventilation (NIV) mask and filter.

The 3D printed part allows the connection of the components into a working solution that not only gives the patient oxygen, but creates positive pressure in the respiratory tract, thus supporting ventilation. This may result in the patient not having to use more radical protection measures such as the use of a respirator.

According to the predictions of specialists from the company, their project will be available to the public in hospitals in mid-April, immediately after undergoing ongoing clinical tests. The elements will be 3D printed in the Belgian Materialise factory, which complies with the standards of ISO 13485. Brigitte De Vet, vice president of Materialise Medical, emphasizes that 3D printing gives a huge field for creating innovation, but it should be remembered that in the case of medical equipment, the priority is the safety of users, therefore, acting in accordance with applicable standards is a must.

All described elements made in Materialise factories are in accordance with applicable medical safety standards. Specialists refer to the official statement of the European Commission (download link), which contains guidelines for the additive production of medical devices in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic. The statement reads that manufactured medical equipment components must meet safety standards and manufacturers should be in constant contact with people who have specialized knowledge on the subject.


Magdalena Przychodniak
Editor-in-Chief of the 3D Printing Center. A biomedical engineer following the latest reports on bioprinting and 3D printing in modern medicine.

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