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How a Covid Face Mask 3d printed comes out

The lockdowns sure have been adjustment for everyone and for engineers in lockdown; what has this meant for your role?

For some, you are deemed necessary or in critical works and your job impact is mostly extra procedure.

For others its remote work, more online and getting design and project work done.

Whatever the case may be this has given some interesting trends to arise and one of those things is the topic of face masks.

Whilst we can investigate the validity in their use, this time I just wanted to find out how good these 3d printed face masks actually were. At the same time, why not document the journey for our Engineering IRL group??

So off I went to thingiverse to find the options of the mask and there was plenty. I decided on one that looked relatively simple and put it into a slicer, Cura Slicer by Ultimaker in my case, to get the estimation: 6.5 hours!

Well in the world of 3D printing with current technology this is not unheard of.

I load it and get a nice time-lapse of the print and did it take 6.5 hours to complete??

-Well you can watch the video to see. But it wasn't waaaayyy off.

It needs some cleaning up and after some cutting and filing, I painted it to bring it to its final form. Trying it on felt comfortable, as far as face masks go. Because of the hard plastic structure it lifts it off of your mouth a little for some breathing room.

The filter chamber fits the grill nicely and all in all it comes out pretty good.

Some notable points on the design:

One person on a Facebook group said the opening was on the small side and didn't allow for enough airflow.

I did not get a further recommendation of how much bigger but it is something i would like to test. That being said, it was designed for a specific filter so I presume the dimensions were based on this as opposed to airflow.

Another was about sealing. To guarantee the airflow was indeed via the filter. And there are solutions to this.

  • Use foam tape a round the edges to form seal around face.

  • 3d scan face so edges can be basically moulded.

But for the purposes of this mask and in particular, it was meant to be an alternative to the cloth masks, the protection was sufficient.

Last, on the viability of community supplied 3d printed masks, there was some stark warnings about filling the demand, the cleanliness, etc. I have answers for those valid concerns. But I find them irrelevant for the purposes of this project.

On the cleanliness, dish soap and warm water by hand is suitable for these masks and i would not keep them in the car.

I printred with PLA on a 0.2mm nozzle at about 200 degreesC with a heated bed at about 60 degrees.

The final product came out so well I decided to print one for my son, so I scaled the original design to 75%, printed, painted baby blue and let him try it on. The results are SUPER cute.

Its towards the end of the video or you can find a picture of it on our Instagram.

Check out the video on YouTube, like and subscribe, and don't forget to tell us what you think!

To celebrate the return of content to Engineering IRL we released the Red themed Engineering Notebook!!

If you're feeling a little ostentatious this is the theme for you. Get yourself a copy on Amazon and feel like your taking real engineering notes.

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