Mass Manufacturing of N95 Masks: Architecture of Interconnected 3D Printing Discussion Written by Patrick on March 24, 2020


Rapid Response Requested for COVID19 Resources

As we have been discussing at length on this podcast – the world is undergoing a massive change.  It is my aim to help add value where we can in terms of bringing communities together in an increasingly disconnected world to solve problems.  This is a journey for all of us as there is a lot of uncertainty and not a lot of clear solutions.  Over the past five years of running IoTFuse and in the process of starting a spin-off community, MedFuse, I have found that often one of the best first steps is to attempt to create primordial soup conditions of talented experts across multiple disciplines to share information.  Since we can’t really do that through Meetup groups or conferences anymore – I’m doing whatever I can now to create virtual substitutes.

Last Friday a friend of mine reached out to me with the idea of creating a virtual community which responds to some of the resource shortage needs emergent around COVID19 safety gear at hospitals.  The original idea was that – there must be thousands of hackers and folks out there across the US who have 3D printers, and much like the effort being done in Italy right now, there is likely a lot of very heavy hitters in our region where we are based in Minnesota in terms of medical device experts, hospital operations experts and others who may have actual domain knowledge in terms of what is lacking and details on how to meet those challenges.

So with a bias toward action, I immediately started a Discord app on this topic, which we invite you to join as well if you are also an expert in this field or may have access to 3d printing or other rapid manufacturing resources – and I have been sending out messaging to our MedFuse and IoTFuse communities to ask for help.

Thus far the conversation has been fairly informative and well directed.  We have a doctor from Washington State and an expert from Mayo clinic engineering on there and it sounds like we may have someone from Statasys join.

Here is a direct quote from someone on our discord (not from me):

Honestly when things get desperate which will happen within the next week we will take whatever we can get. Homemade 3D printed masks will work better than CDC approved Bandanas. Don’t let FDA regulations necessarily guide your decisions. There are some nurses and providers making masks from kleenex and masking tape. We can do better and cannot wait for the federal government to pull through. We as healthcare workers appreciate whatever PPE including masks and face shields that we can produce. This production may be life saving when there is nothing. I understand that some masks produced need filters but there are other options that will still work better than cloth masks. Please consider getting the word out as fast as possible to get on manufacturing. The rural hospitals I cover do not have any cushion or reserve that Mayo Clinic has. Once the major hospitals are overwhelmed we will be left struggling to provide care to patients with what little resources we have. I thank you all for getting involved and offering to help.

-Recent Mayo Clinic graduate from Rochester, MN

In response from this we had another comment:

I agree with this last post. I don’t know how well they work because I haven’t look at specs, but I know of some people trying to repurpose vacuum filter bags. One physician told me “better than nothing” and that may be true, unless you start to depend on it to trust you. It might be better than nothing if you are in only occasional contact with the virus, but I suspect it just doesn’t hold up for constant exposure. That does mean some healthcare workers may get by with less protection to let the front line staff get by with more. I would definitely be considering those two things. Mask fit. And filtration material efficiency.

-Someone from Mayo Clinic Engineering


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