AM in the time of COVID-19Contest

America Makes unveils top ‘Fit to Face’ 3D printed mask challenge designs

As soon as 3D printing’s role in the COVID-19 pandemic started to crystallize, America Makes stepped up to help consolidate and coordinate 3D printing efforts. As part of this, the national AM institution teamed up with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the FDA and the National Institutes of Health to fast-track clinical reviews of 3D printed personal protective equipment (PPE) and other useful parts. The organization also launched the Fit to Face Mask Design Challenge in a bid to optimize the fit for face masks, a critical part of keeping medical and frontline workers protected.

America Makes Mask Design Challenge
The Vader Small face mask design by Alliance PCB Solutions, LLC

The challenge, launched in collaboration with the VA, has taken a step forward, with America Makes announcing the top designs submitted. The “winners”, so to speak, include two top designs, submitted by Alliance PCB Solutions and Carnegie Mellon University, as well as two honorable mentions from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Re:3D Inc.

“Through our ongoing collaborations with VA, FDA and NIH, America Makes has facilitated entry paths for the AM community to engage and address PPE supply chain gaps during this crisis,” said America Makes Executive Director John Wilczynski. “With the Fit to Face Challenge, participants leveraged leading Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) principles under a compressed timeframe to advance designs that demonstrated considerable improvement of mask fit characteristics. It truly showed the remarkable innovative nature of the additive community.”

America Makes Mask Design Challenge
TheSmall and Moldable Mask Large by Carnegie Mellon University

In the challenge, participants from across the AM industry and academia were invited to come up with face mask design solutions to optimize the continuous fit-to-face contact. At the outset, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provided five digital headform datasets to help participants design the masks for a range of face types. Other factors that came into play in the judging stage were instructions for use, manufacturability, assembly and manufacturing instructions. The top designs were fast-tracked through the VA, FDA and NIH clinical review process.

“Judging the Fit to Face Challenge designs was difficult as the submissions were all very good,” commented America Makes Technology Director Brandon Ribic, PhD. “It was clear that designers spent significant time developing these masks to meet each of the challenge criteria. We thank our guest reviewers Autodesk, ASME and Siemens and all the participants and congratulate the top design teams for their efforts. We also want to encourage them to further refine their designs to address the testing evaluation findings regarding some secondary criteria.”

The four open source mask designs will be featured on the America Makes and NIH 3D Print Exchange websites.


Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault moved from her home of Montreal, Canada to the Netherlands in 2014 to pursue a master’s degree in Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. It was during her time in Amsterdam that she became acquainted with 3D printing technology and began writing for a local additive manufacturing news platform. Now based in France, Tess has over two and a half years experience writing, editing and publishing additive manufacturing content with a particular interest in women working within the industry. She is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM industry.

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