3d printed visors and masks

Apr 06, 2020

These last few days, in midst of the Covid19 pandemic, we have seen the extraordinary power of technology. Coming face to face with the shortage of medical supplies, several research centers and prototyping studios in the Republic of North Macedonia using the 3D printing technology, have been helping the medical staff in this fight. The Center for Knowledge Management is actively participating in these efforts through its prototyping lab - a well-equipped prototyping studio which was created within the project Innoplatform in 2018, supported by the Interreg BalkanMed programme of the EU.
First, CKM efforts were placed on developing a good protype for the visor holders. Two types of holders were printed, but after talking to the medical personnel, CKM team improved the first prototype model as the same provided better protection. At the same time, CKM has been working on printing and refining an already existing mask design which is a modified version of the N95. At the end, we got an interesting combination. The biggest advantage of this 3D printed kit is that it is not just for single use. The visor can be easily disinfected, the face mask also, while a cotton pad is used as a filter. It is changed on a daily basis and prevents the virus from reaching the user.
The material that is used to create these products is PLA (Polylactic Acid). It is a biodegradable thermoplastic which is derived from renewable resources, such as cornstarch, sugar cane, tapioca roots or even potato starch. This makes PLA the most environmentally friendly solution and the best material for 3D printing, considering its high elasticity and non-toxicity. PLA is also used in food packaging, bags, hygiene products etc., so therefore it is pretty safe. The elasticity of this set is achieved through small air vents that are inserted with the printing and which cannot be attained with any other kind of production. Therefore, at this point in time it is a challenge to organize another type of production. However, the durability of the product is much higher than other materials used for this purpose. It can be used for years and minimize medical waste.

In the past five days, CKM team although working from home has printed and assembled more than 20 sets and continuing, which were donated through Humanitarian Action group to the healthcare professionals. Because of their quality, these products were selected for use in the Infectious Diseases Clinic Skopje.
The Center for Knowledge Management is a research center set up in 2008 to strengthen and improve knowledge management processes in all social spheres in the Republic of North Macedonia and the SEE region. The center covers a wide range of activities implemented in cooperation with the civil society, state institutions and the business community. The vision of the Center is to become an active participant in the institutional and economic development of the country and the region.