PPE is one of the most important protective layers for healthcare workers around the world in a crisis like COVID-19. Many hospitals have already run out of N95 masks and other PPE, including face masks and face shields. Doctors are trying to reuse and ration masks. The industrial supply chain is unable to scale up to meet current demands. In the US and globally, there is an urgent need for fast stopgap solutions to meet the current demands for PPE.
The goal is to modify a “full-face” snorkeling mask and add a 3D-printed part on the ventilation port of the snorkel shield. This 3D-printed part will be a custom attachment, acting as a swap-in replacement for the snorkel tube. As with a snorkel tube, all inhaled air will pass through the attachment. A filter can be added to the attachment for air filtration.
Integrating a N95 mask filter for 0.3 µm particles into the custom attachment would allow the snorkel mask to function as a simple face shield, thus providing the same level of protection to a medical health worker as a combination of an N95 mask and a face shield. Moreover, we are extensively testing this solution for decontamination and re-use using heat treatment, autoclaving, bleach and other standard decontamination protocols.
• Manu Prakash (Bioengineering)