Engineers and Manufacturers Develop Solutions to Mask Shortages
Tom Spendlove posted on April 02, 2020 |
Manufacturers and 3D printing companies produce face masks and face shields.

As the world fights the COVID-19 pandemic, surgical masks, face shields and N95 respirators are all in short supply. Several engineering and manufacturing companies are making contributions. 

The governor and attorney general of Pennsylvania contacted Fanatics Executive Chairman Michael Rubin for permission to use the company’s fabric to manufacture face masks and hospital gowns. Rubin said that around 100 employees are making level 1 non-surgical masks from the material that would normally be used for Major League Baseball jerseys. The company estimates it will make almost 15,000 masks per day with plans to immediately distribute them to medical centers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. Ninety five percent of the effort is focused on masks.

Resonance Companies in the Dominican Republic has shifted its efforts from clothing to masks, making masks for nearby areas and planning to produce more in New York City. The company has also published its plans and patterns for people to create masks in their homes or quarantine spots. 

Budmen has provided instructions for others to fabricate their own face shields. (Image courtesy of Budmen.)
Budmen has provided instructions for others to fabricate their own face shields. (Image courtesy of Budmen.)
Fanatics is creating masks and gowns with its fabric typically used for MLB jerseys. (Image courtesy of Fanatics/Twitter.)

Fanatics is creating masks and gowns with its fabric typically used for MLB jerseys. (Image courtesy of Fanatics/Twitter.)

3D-printing companies are also helping to deliver masks. Brooklyn-based Voodoo Manufacturing repurposed two of its factories and launched the combatingcovid website to offer low-cost face shields. Reusable headbands are 3D printed while the 10-inch tall, 0.020in PETG face shields are meant for one time use and changed out. Budmen Industries from Liverpool completely suspended work on its 3D printers and switched over to an ambitious mask project. Isaac Budmen, whose hometown is Syracuse, has instructions for others to fabricate their own face shields. The site allows users to register as producers or requesters of the shields. There have been a staggering 263,998 shields requested as of this writing. Prusa has a great writeup of its mask printing efforts on the Czechoslovakian manufacturer’s website. The page tells the story of a three-day journey involving prototyping, iterative design and a meeting with Czech Ministry of Health officials. 

Voodoo, a 3-D printing company, has focused efforts on creating low-cost face shields, as well as assembly instructions. engineering masks and instructions. (Image courtesy of Voodoo.)

Voodoo, a 3-D printing company, has focused efforts on creating low-cost face shields, as well as assembly instructions. engineering masks and instructions. (Image courtesy of Voodoo.)

While many engineers and manufacturers are working to make equipment to protect medical professionals, some concerns exist. Sterilization of product is key for protection. Budmen requires participants in their project to click, and hopefully read, a Terms and Condition box with the added disclaimer: “We rely entirely on the end users to assess the effectiveness of the 3D face shields and whether they are suitable to the particular use and conditions of use involved. We do not warrant the masks for any particular purpose.” Prusa also points out that the virus might be able to live on plastic for 48-90 hours and includes notes for making manufacture and fabrication as sterile and safe as possible.


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