Supplying new PPE for the NHS

New design uses 57% less material, prints in one third of the time, and can fit at least twice as many on to the printer at one time.

Surgical masks aren’t meant to be worn for extended periods of time, day after day. During the current pandemic, NHS staff found the elastic was cutting into their ears and making them sore and uncomfortable.

Working with the National 3D Printing Society, we improved upon an existing design for a grip which was a great concept but had some issues that were highlighted by NHS staff across the East Midlands.

Previous surgical mask strap adjuster

The previous design snagged on hair and was difficult to put on and take off many times throughout the day without touching the mask – a big no for contamination.

The previous grip was quite large, so when users wore it on the tighter hooks it stuck out from either side of the head which they found irritating. In the improved design, it was also imperative to fit as many grips on a 3D printer bed as possible, reduce the amount of material used, and speed up printing time so as many as possible could be manufactured for distribution around the country.

Improving 3D printing efficiency and comfort with new design

The grip sits on the back of the head and holds the mask elastic away from the ears, preventing it from cutting into the backs of the ears and making the masks more comfortable to wear.

Feedback from NHS staff was that it snagged far less in the hair than the previous design. One side of the elastic is hooked onto the grip before putting the mask on – by only needing to touch the grip and one side of the mask elastic, it reduces the risk of contamination and makes putting it on far easier.

For users who prefer the tighter hooks, the grip can be trimmed so it doesn’t stick out from the side of the head.

The improved grip uses 57% less material, prints in one third of the time, and at least twice as many can fit on the printer bed at one time.

This project was done in conjunction with the National 3D Printing Society who have set up a manufacturing and distribution network of over 2200 3D printers and are working with MedSupplyDriveUK and other partners to help meet the PPE demand during this national pandemic.

Download free 3D Print STL file

Click this link to download the file: https://cults3d.com/en/3d-model/various/improved-surgical-mask-strap-ear-saver

If you have a 3D printer and would like to help, the file can be found below. Head to National 3D Printing Society to find out more information and your nearest drop-off point.

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