AM in the time of COVID-19AM Industry

FIT presents FiT Filter carrier, a practical 3D printed mask solution against Coronavirus

Like many (so so many) other AM companies, the FIT Additive Manufacturing Group also responded to the Corona Pandemic by proposing a solution that leverages AM rapidity. The German firm developed (and made available to download for 3D printing here) a special filtration system named FiT filter carrier for the general population, which can be combined with almost any filter material to form an emergency mask.

The filter carrier/holder can be used several times by simply and quickly changing the filter. A smaller model especially for children is currently being developed. The data set for a 3D printable model can be also downloaded free of charge from the company’s homepage.

All over the world, health systems and the population suffer from a lack of protective equipment. Those who are on the front line in hospitals fighting for the survival of infected patients need all the professional protective equipment that can be manufactured to protect themselves. At the same time, the general population must also be protected from infection in order to reduce the infection rate and thus relieve the burden on hospitals. Wearing of protective masks is currently becoming increasingly important. After Germany, like many initially unaffected countries, seemed to minimize the problem that was dramatically affecting countries like Italy first and Spain later, now the death toll is growing all over the world and the president of the German Medical Association (BÄK), Klaus Reinhardt has called for the wearing of protective masks. However, in many places the masks are no longer available.

For this reason, FIT Additive Manufacturing Group developed this interesting alternative to conventional masks in the form of a FiT filter carrier/holder so that anyone can reduce the risk of infecting others even without a mask. The easy-to-assemble kit is reusable, disinfectable, dishwasher-safe and consists of two identical plastic nets between which any filter material, from a paper handkerchief, cotton tissues or antimicrobial covers to professional non-woven materials, can be inserted. The filter material can be replaced quickly and easily at any time, as any material loses its effectiveness due to increased moisture. Depending on which filter is inserted, the effectiveness of filtering the smallest particles out of the air also changes, as a study by the University of Cambridge has shown. In this study from 2013, the vacuum cleaner bag performed best in comparison to the surgical mask.

“We see how urgently respiratory masks are needed by the population and companies and want to make our contribution to the fight against the spread of the virus with our FiT filter carrier. We are fully aware that our filter carrier cannot protect healthy people from infection. We simply want to improve the protection of others, i.e. reduce the risk of infected people infecting others by droplet infection. In this way, we want to contribute to a slowing down of the infection rate. And that’s all that matters at the moment,” explained Carl Fruth, CEO of FIT AG.

Over the past few days, the firm produced a first version of the FiT filter carrier using 3D printing. An enhanced version is now available, which can be produced thousands of times quickly and inexpensively by injection molding. The company is planning a smaller model, especially for children. By keeping its distance, the world moves closer together in the face of global threats. “Now is the time to act and live in solidarity,” affirmed Fruth. This is why his company will make the first production of the FiT available free of charge to all citizens in his home town of Lupburg.

Everyone else can produce this mask locally as the data set for a 3D printable version of the FiT filter carrier from the FIT Additive Manufacturing Group, optimized for SLS machines, is available for download free of charge on the company’s homepage.

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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.

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