UB using 3D printing to create face masks for frontline workers

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AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB)–One size does not fit all. That’s how one group led by University at Buffalo Chair of biomedical engineering Dr. Albert Titus is approaching personal protective equipment.

“Locally, the discussion started about well how do we solve the problem, various problems, one of them being the N95 masks and shields.” Titus said “The clear face shields and so forth we said well we can address this by using 3D printing, and by using 3D printing you’re making a mask and then you can use filter material to act as the filter so you satisfy the need for the mask as well as potentially being able to reuse the mask.”

The engineers make the masks using a computer program, which controls the 3D printer. And as opposed to mass-producing, Titus says a 3D printer can make a mask that is unique to each person’s face.

“We can now take individual people, scan their faces, and make individual masks. That’s one of the steps we’re looking at and it makes the masks better because they’re for you. They’re 3D printed so you can clean them, replace the filters so you can keep wearing the masks again and again. Titus said

Titus says the group has already distributed some of these masks to those on the frontline as a way to test how they work and feel.

“We’re right now printing anywhere between 10 to 20 of these per day and trying to collect them and trying to get them out to people so they’re functioning as they should. We’re really responding to the need. Everybody knows somebody whether it’s a neighbor or someone who is battling on the front lines and we need to do what we can to help them.”

The team has submitted their work to the FDA for emergency approval.

Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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