RapidMade has recently shifted production to fight the spread of COVID-19. RapidMade, known for its plastic 3D printing capabilities, is now producing emergency PPE to limit the spread of COVID-19 through the production of lightweight plastic face masks with built-in removable filters, as well as face shields. The company is dedicating a large portion of resources to aid local and large-scale coronavirus relief amidst a shortage of N95 masks.

N95 masks are vital PPE for medical professionals and essential workers working through the pandemic. An N95 respirator mask is the healthcare industry standard for meeting federal standards in terms of protecting personnel from airborne viruses and bacteria. These masks fit tightly and are capable of filtering out potentially harmful viruses and bacteria. As of March 2020, the growing shortage of N95 masks has forced individuals to look for alternatives, such as RapidMade’s reusable face masks.

The Portland-based 3D printing company is manufacturing a unique face mask that reduces waste through the use of removable filters that can be replaced as needed. Although these filters must be replaced periodically, these masks reduce waste since they can be used more than once when sanitized. These face masks are lightweight and skin tight. They are helping create a safer environment for essential workers, individuals, and more. RapidMade is also creating lightweight face shields to offer added protection. These face shields are made from lightweight yet strong polycarbonate. These clear face shields are entirely transparent and can be sanitized and reused.

RapidMade is providing these resources not only to the healthcare industry but also for individual and commercial purchase so that companies can ensure the health and safety of essential workers. Micah Chaban, VP of Sales, states, “At first, we focused on supplying the local medical community with personal protective equipment (PPE) but then realized that the need was much greater than that, so we expanded production to serve the public. We just want to help keep people safe, so we can overcome this together.”

3D prototype printing technology has aided the quick production of a changeable filter and reusable face mask. These advances were crucial to developing a prototype. The current manufacturing process combines 3D prototype printing technology with more traditional means in order to efficiently and quickly send these masks to the market. RapidMade utilized older manufacturing technologies like vacuum and thermoforming that can operate on a larger production scale at a lower cost. This is a pivot from RapidMade’s usual services,  but a resourceful use of versatile technology.

RapidMade President, Mark Eaton, states, “For the masks, we were able to leverage some open source designs, and we used all our 3D printing and engineering knowhow to quickly iterate the design. But we soon realized that a vacuum-formed, lightweight plastic mask would cost less, be lighter, conform better to the face for a better fit and most importantly quickly ramp up to huge weekly volumes.”

The mask’s design incorporates a 3D printed filter cartridge assembly with a dual polyester/rayon and melt blown polypropylene filter element. The result is a mask extremely similar to the N95 masks that are sold commercially. RapidMade supplies five replacement filters. The removable filters allow the masks to be sanitized regularly. RapidMade suggests weekly replacement of filters and a more frequent replacement if the user is working in a dust-filled or adverse environment.

RapidMade operated under a quick deadline to get these masks to the market. Within seven days, the 3D printing company created, tested, and prototyped the mask and shield designs. This process was supplemented with feedback from local first responders for the seal, fit, and use of the mask. The mask was proved to be a solid, reliable, and safe option before it even hit the market.

RapidMade is currently in full mask and shield production, manufacturing 2,000 masks per week, 5,000 filters a week, and 1,000 shields a week. They continue to prove there are options for reusable masks that can be disinfected regularly without deterring in quality. As well as producing emergency PPE for individual and consumer sale, RapidMade is donating to individuals and facilities in need.

Micah Chaban states, “We are proud of the fact that we could create these products quickly, protect vital healthcare workers and help get Americans safely back to work.”

Source: Company Press Release