Thursday, March 26, 2020

Have access to a 3D printer? Make this mask. NHS staff need protection.

There is, despite everything, a real shortage of Personal Protection Equipment within the NHS, both locally in Shetland and throughout the UK. 

Masks that will stop or at least go a very long way to preventing transmission of the Corona Virus are in short supply. If you have a 3D printer you may be able to help. The Billings or Montana mask is in use in Scotland. It's dishwasher safe.

This is NOT a replacement for medically-approved masks which protect against droplet transmission.  this DOES NOT have official approval from NHS Shetland or NHS management in Scotland. It is being recommended ONLY for LOWER RISK SITUATIONS.

These are desperate times. Official protection gear is sometimes being withheld from medical staff in case it is needed for future emergencies. And as you can see from some of the data, used with something as simple as bits of vacuum cleaner inner bags (we have used Henry Hepaflo bags) these masks can can help. They ARE a stopgap until fully functional medical masks, but the evidence is that used properly in certain situations they can be very nearly as efficient as surgical masks.

The whole thing was pioneered in Scotland by Dr Robbie Coull, GP in Strachur, Argyll, and you can find illustrations of how he deploys these masks on his twitter feed @drrcoull

He was on BBC TV tonight talking about this. These masks are being enthusiastically embraced by the NHS in England, he says, but not by NHS managers in Scotland.

Robbie goes into detail about the masks' limitations and how they ought to be used in a tweet you can find here. 

I'm grateful to Iain Waddell of RonasVoe, Northmavine, who has begun printing these masks in Shetland, and would invite anyone who has a 3D printer or access to one, and the correct materials, to - FIRST - ascertain need among NHS staff or a practice you know . 

It is unlikely that NHS management will respond on an official level. You can try.

Do what Iain has done and print some out. It's taking him around four hours to print a single masks, though, so take that into account.

The data on everyday filter materials, along with some fascinating advice on more casual methods of protection, can be found here.

Instructions on making the Montana or Billings mask, including the full code necessary to run the printing program, are here.

Once printed you will need some fine sandpaper to smooth out the edges of the mask. You will also need elastic or string to hold it in place and there are adaptations using silicone sealant, draft excluder and Vaseline to make the seal against the face more efficient.

Personally, I've found that slipping the mask underneath a Buff or other elasticated motorbiking neckerchief is simple and effective.

Beards do NOT work well with this mask. Or indeed any form of breathing protection.

Please note that there are many different designs for 3D printed anti-viral masks available online, and you are welcome to experiment with them. This is the one we know how to make.

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