Over the past few weeks, the global 3D printing community has proved that, in the face of the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is able to climb to the heights of creativity and quickly produce hundreds of unique medical aids to those who fight for our health. Protective masks are one of the most desirable items. There are many more or less successful projects on the Internet, whose creators assumed that the masks must be fully 3D printed. In the meantime, sometimes you only need to modify existing things and adapt them to the current needs.

Our reader, Przemek Stachura, came to the editorial office of the 3D Printing Center informing that he was able to design the 3D printable model of 3M mask adapter to a special type of respirator filters. The model quickly caught the attention of, among others paramedics who have expressed a desire to use the solution.

The more popular Przemek’s project became, the more people expressed interest, so the author created a list that can be entered by both those looking for adapters and those who can make them.

3M mask adapters

Below are some detailed information provided by Przemek:

Magdalena Przychodniak: Where did the idea for such a solution come from?

Przemek Stachura: Until now, many paramedics have used universal masks, on which they applied filters to protect them against infectious diseases. These filters are manufactured by the same mask manufacturers as standard and are permitted by appropriate guidelines. In the current situation related to COVID-19, filters have become scarce (or have become very expensive), while masks are in the possession of rescuers. At the same time, DAR filters are still available that are typically used on the inspiratory and expiratory ports of ventilators.

Łukasz Jackowiak, a paramedic from the Wolski Hospital in Warsaw, came up with the idea to create an adapter that would allow to combine the available mask with available DAR filters. As he had heard that in Italy 3D printing was used in the production of various missing medical components, he contacted me as a specialist in 3D printing. The model was successfully designed and 3D printed in just a few hours.

MP: Who can benefit from such a solution?

PS: Masks are used by paramedics who go to patients who are potentially infected. Due to the lack of equipment, currently available standard masks do not sufficiently protect them against the virus, so the use of such masks that adhere perfectly to the face is crucial. The solution has been used for two days and so far I have encountered such a use, although it is not known how it will be used further. Nevertheless, the main focus now is the protection of medics.

3M mask adapters
MP: What masks is the 3M mask adapter designed for?

PS: Mask types, there are a lot to use. Currently, adapters are designed compatible with two types of masks (one for all 3M masks shown in the link above, and the other for the available in Decathlon snorkling mask). However, doctors from all over Poland come with other types, asking for the design of an appropriate adapter. That is why we have created a list, on which persons with printers can also indicate their readiness to prepare new types of adapters, after delivery in order to precisely match the element to the mask. Three new projects will appear soon.

MP: Has the solution been tested?

PS: The mask has been tested for patency, i.e. whether the design of the adapter blocks the airflow in any way and whether it is difficult to breathe through it. All tests carried out at the Wolski Hospital by the aforementioned paramedic were successful and they are already using this set in the whole team and riding in the field with it.

The fundamental aspect, which is worth considering when printing personal protective equipment is the right choice of the filament. The material must meet all functional conditions and shall be easy to sterilize. Thanks to its high chemical resistance and temperature resistance up to about 70°C, PETG can be used for the production of protective elements that must withstand multiple sterilization procedures. During disinfection, many procedures require heating the elements to a temperature above 60°C, therefore another material with lower temperature resistance (e. g. PLA) may not be suitable for this application.

You can find more information about the project on the Prehospital blog group.


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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