Copper3D organizing global campaign to 3D print antimicrobial masks on a global scale

Download the open source antimicrobial mask 3D printable model here

Copper has been used in clinical settings to reduce the risk of bacterial and viral contamination, complementing traditional protocols, and one of the leading companies for 3D printing in this field is Copper3D, producing filaments for antimicrobial devices. In fact, copper is considered to be one of the most effective materials that exist for killing coronavirus.

“As a company, we have a very practical approach. We look for great challenges to solve and we analyze what mix, between technology and design, could lead us to an effective and novel solution to that problem. We have a great ally at our side which is antimicrobial 3D printing, with this technology and intelligent designs many problems can be solved […] All of this in very intense work loops since many of these problems are really urgent, as in the case of this COVID-19 pandemic”, said Co-founder Daniel Martínez.

And it was precisely this pandemic of COVID-19 that led Copper 3D to quickly think of a solution for the global shortage of N95 masks due to the exponential increase in world demand for this product, to which was added another additional factor; the fall in distribution chains worldwide. So they quickly worked on developing the patent for a model similar to a standard N95 mask but with some peculiarities (Antiviral, Reusable, Modular, Washable, Recyclable, Low-Cost), which were completely designed in a digital environment so that it could be downloaded anywhere in the world and 3D printed with any FDM/FFF equipment, even a low cost one. The name of this mask in “NanoHack”.

Daniel Martínez elaborates on this topic: “Now the challenge was purely logistical because there was a breakdown of the distribution chains in the world. On the other hand, 3D printing takes time, for example, one of these masks takes around 2:00 hrs. to print what forced us to think collaboratively based on the concept of Distributed Manufacturing and networks of 3D printers working 24/7 in order to make a big amount of masks in a short time. That’s when we decided that we should coordinate a worldwide network of startups, makers, universities and partner companies that will help us to print these masks, in order to quickly amplify access to this design and make it really have a global impact. And that’s exactly what we did: Hack this pandemic with Nanotechnology, 3D Printing, Distributed Manufacturing and Networks of Collaboration with many organizations and people around the world.

Additionally, Copper3D decided to immediately release the patent (which was filed and pending) so that this design would be completely Open Source. This is probably the first case in the history of 3D printing that the same design is downloaded massively worldwide to prevent more deaths in the context of a pandemic.

Please add/discuss anything useful related to this in the dedicated forum.

Davide Sher

Since 2002, I have built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, I spent 12 years in the United States, where I received my Bachelor of Arts undergraduate degree. As a journalist covering the tech industry - especially the videogame industry - for over 10 years, I began covering the AM industry specifically in 2013, as blogger. In 2016 I co-founded London-based 3D Printing Business Media Ltd. (now 3dpbm) which operates in marketing, editorial, and market analysis & consultancy services for the additive manufacturing industry. 3dpbm publishes 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies related to 3DP, and leading news and insights websites 3D Printing Media Network and Replicatore. I am also a Senior Analyst for leading US-based firm SmarTech Analysis focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets.

View Comments

  • Wondering if there is a any kind of guide directing people on both printer settings and fitting the mask to a patients face.

    Given this filament will inevitably become very valuable & hard to find I'm also curious if it's possible to print the top cap in something like generic PETG/PLA to save on material.

    • I totally agree - I printed a bunch of those and it's super hard to fold it and fit correctly... Especially the chin part - this "hinge" is so thin it just breaks. Also, I have no idea how to correctly connect thechin part to the cheek parts without leaving huge gaps. Went to thrash.

      • You've got to keep the mask warm and flexible the entire time. If the plastic turns white while bending, stop and add heat. If it doesn't feel like you're flopping a steaming hot tortilla on your face (it's gonna sting for a couple seconds), you're not going to get it to fit correctly. Also, I found it best to be looking straight at the floor when fitting the hot mask. The chin piece goes inside and the wings will match the contour of the cheeks. The first couple I tried left gaping holes, as you described, but I finally got it to fold tight. It'll still need to be sealed though, and I used CA glue. Keep trying until you master it with cheaper materials before wasting the expensive antimicrobial stuff. I used a space heater to provide the heat, because you'll need to heat large areas evenly, and it frees up a hand. After you get the basic shape, you can make smaller area adjustments. When you get it to a good point, hold it to your face with light pressure, cover the intake and exhale. Address each leak one by one. It took me about an hour and a half to get mine at a point where I really have to exhale hard before it lets loose.

        Keep at it, this is certainly a new skill most of us have never needed to develop.

  • I am printing it now in TPU, will see how it turns out, I have 5 printers so could make many for the people around me.

  • FYI - Having just spent an hour watching live presentation from Dr. Eric Rassmussen on Covid-19, two things to know in regards to this:
    1. Covid-19 can live on plastic for up to 3 days.
    2. It has also been shown to live on copper more than 24 hours and copper in its case is NOT anti-viral. It is antibacterial and that's not the same.

    You should be cautious now that we know more as of today 3-18-20

    • But isn't the good thing about this, that you can wash and disinfect them? They can be used many times that way.

    • “None of the designs available right now have been tested to ensure they provide the protections needed, at least none of the ones I am aware of. To help with this, we have collected as many designs as we could find, and are working with experts to see if we can verify which ones really work. What are the key focus points? First, it’s the sealing, then the filter itself, the filter to the mask, and how the mask attaches to the face – it all must be perfect. Most of us print rigid materials that are hard to make compliant for seals. Even if we can get a good seal, will it remain functional e.g. even when the wearer talks?

      Another question we need to take into account is the porosity of the printed parts and the safety concerns that come from that. The wearer will have the mask on their face, a humid and warm place, a perfect breeding ground for germs. We won’t be able to sterilize these masks effectively so we might be causing even more problems. And the virus reportedly survives for over 48 hours on the plastics (or even 90 hours, according to some other studies). We all want to help our friends and families which means we should be all the more precautious to keep from hurting them. If you absolutely insist on printing a mask now, treat it like it is a basic surgical mask and not as a true respirator with all the protections they provide. A false sense of security can be very dangerous. I understand you’re trying to help, but PLEASE spread this info into your 3D printing groups.”

      - Joseph Prusa, Founder Prusa3D Printers and Research, on 3/18/20
      Full article: https://blog.prusaprinters.org/from-design-to-mass-3d-printing-of-medical-shields-in-three-days/

    • I read the same re: Copper. Over and over. The virus lives on copper for a Very long time.

  • I just printed this mask and while it might look good, it has way too many gaps. I used a heat gun to shape it. The biggest problem is a huge gap between your face and the mask at the top on each side of your nose. I'm printing masks for a friend of mine that's desperate for some but I'm using a different file that has a much better fit.

  • Very interesting - finding filter medium MAY be easier than masks at this point vs trying to print that

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