Medical University of South Carolina engineers create 3D printed masks to help ease shortages

National News

Photo: MUSC photographer Sarah Pack

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Medical University of South Carolina will soon make 3D printed masks.

It comes amid a shortage of protected materials due to the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic.

Engineers with MUSC have worked on design and technology to provide the 3D printed masks locally and around the country.

MUSC’s Leslie Cantu wrote, “Medical University of South Carolina biomedical engineers and tinkerers had an inspired idea: unleash an army of makers from across the U.S. who could make such masks from 3D printers.”

“High schools have a printer capable of making this,” said Michael Yost, Ph.D., vice chairman of research in the Department of Surgery. “Let’s make this so simple that a high schooler could do it, yet effective to protect our people.”

In a matter of days, Cantu said a team came together and developed the Self-Assembly Filter for Emergencies, or SAFE, Cartridge System which would be used by medical professionals or those who just want to make a trip to the grocery store.

Various iterations of the masks and filter cartridges show the progression of the team’s design. (Photo: Sarah Pack)

MUSC says the team has been in contact with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to obtain emergency approval of the device.

Leaders say the N95 masks which are in short supply are basically filters molded into mask form.

“Recreating those masks exactly proved too difficult,” Cantu wrote. “So instead, the team created a two-part solution: a 3D printed mask that can be cleaned and reused that will work in tandem with a 3D printed disposable filter cartridge.”

The filter cartridge could also be used with an adapted hospital mask.

MUSC said engineers are talking to manufacturers to see if the design can be mass-produced.

To read more about this project, please click or tap here.

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