Hi Tinnittin, I love that your team is leaping into action to help your community! I actually have family a bit north of you in Whitefish (my aunt and uncle up there are doctors), so I’ve been through Missoula a few times over the years, and understand that MT’s medical situation isn’t always the same as a larger state’s.
If you want “help from the FRC community” to fulfill local need - I recommend you ask the FRC community ship the masks to your team, so that your team can do quality control on the way in.
I’m glad you have a doctor near you that will accept using these masks as replacements for surgical masks.
I have a lot of concerns about his choice, that mostly don't matter if hes considering these surgical masks rather than respirators
But if he wants hobbyist prints, make hobbyist prints. Don’t expect anyone else to accept them. I wouldn’t consider them replacements for NIOSH N95 respirators.
The existing directions don’t include wall thickness, layer height, scaling, etc - all of which will impact final print quality and how well the ‘snap in’ filter cover actually snaps in.
The existing directions don’t include anything about safe handoffs (assume that simultaneously everyone is contagious and everyone needs protecting).
The existing directions for printing do not include any kind of smoothing & sealing step. Finding a way to do that will make it safer (help prevent air flowing through the print) and easier to wash & reuse safely with fewer cracks and crevices.
The existing design is sized for one particular man’s face. It’s not clear that the same design will pass fit testing on other people’s faces (“mask” rather than “respirator”). If you’re printing for local need, maybe tweak the design to fit local faces; if you’re intending on printing for the Billings Clinic - talk to them about multiple sizes?
PLA, more for other communities
Billings Clinic is asking for PLA masks, which are pretty much only washable in soap & water - they won’t survive common industrial-scale cleaning & sterilizing techniques used at other facilities. If you want to help your local hospitals, be in touch with them (ideally, through a single point of contact in the community) to understand requirements before you start printing.
Given the engagement of a local filter supplier, I hope that the filters do not have loose fibers after diecutting.
Other parts of the country are reporting shortages of face shields and cloth masks for patients / cloth masks for covering N95’s.
Do you know if the hospitals & clinics have face shields that the doctors & nurses can wear for secondary droplet protection (change between patients instead of respirators, let the N95 last longer, the shield gets wiped down and reused the following day)?
Can you talk to your local clinics and see if they have anyone working on that yet?
Remember to verify your materials/acceptability with your local clinic’s point of contact!
All you need is one piece of clear plastic, one piece of closed cell foam across the top, and a tie system around the back of the head. There are 3D printed variants, but a single piece of thicker foam is faster to execute. If all you have in closed-cell is thin weatherstripping, you might want a 3dprinted holder to make the weatherstripping go farther. Additional designs are at the OSCMS link in my previous posts.
Do you know if the hospitals & clinics have cloth masks they can give their coughing patients, so that they don’t coat the waiting rooms in viruses? Or that clinicians can wear over N95’s between patients, so that one N95 can last all day?
Can you talk to your local clinics and see if they have someone working with them on this yet?
The robotics team probably has quite a few contacts in the community (parents, cousins…) that you could use to do the “piecework” for maskmaking, aggregate and launder a bunch of masks, and then get them in place at clinics. The key is to make sure you understand what designs the local facilities can use.
Nationally, I’m seeing a lot of requests for 100% cotton or 50/50 cotton/poly blend overmasks with ties that go around the head (rather than ear elastics) and no nosepiece for easier laundering.
For personal use, the www.project-cloth-masks.com design integrates nonwoven polypropylene layers and a nose piece; the construction is similar to a surgical mask or the Cambridge Mask, but with no vent. This is a benefit in the current situation, as a mask without a vent does a better job of protecting other people from you (ie, always assume that you are an asymptomatic carrier).
Here is a guide to being a Crafting Organizer
And I linked a few crafting organizations in my post in another thread.
Bottom line - can you talk to your community clinics about what else they need help with?