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Review: Ergonomically designed AirPop masks based on 3D printing (Includes first-hand account)

Face masks can provide an effective barrier, should someone be infected with the novel coronavirus, against passing on the infection. This is by allowing the mask wearer to breathe, whilst filtering out most particles. The main source of transmission of COVID-19 is through droplets the human body produces when we cough, sneeze, or simply talk.

The ability of the mask to filter out particles varies between masks, and this is based on the efficiency rating of the mask. Most viral particles are connected with the larger particles associated with salivary and nasal excretions.

Masks also need to be comfortable for the wearer, and to fit snugly around the face. Masks that are ill fitting, especially around the edges, allow exhaled air out and with this there will be the release of viral particles, should the wearer be infected.

This means design is important and considering the design and wear issues, the company AirPop have developed a mask that is comfortable and effective. Some examples were sent to Digital Journal for review.

An AirPop face mask  developed with 3D modelling.

An AirPop face mask, developed with 3D modelling.

AirPop states it is the world’s first “air wearables” company. The focus is with building masks that fit well, filter better, and retain breathability.

At the heart of the mask is AirPop’s laboratory-certified filter, which keeps out over 99.3 percent of particles and droplets within the mask filter (based on a 0.3 micron challenge). This provided assurance that an infected person presents only a low chance of infection to others, in conjunction with other measures such as social distancing and hand and surface decontamination.

A further weakness with masks is their short time of being effective. Mot surgical face masks have only a four hour wear time. With the AirPop masks, the filters offer 40 hours of wear time, and can be replaced without having to replace the whole mask.

There are three standard masks for consumers: Ergonomic Light SE, the ultra-portable AirPop pocket, and one designed for children, the AirPop Kids.

In testing out the masks for comfort, the masks are easy to put on and very comfortable to wear. Inside in padding and a nose support piece. The mask also fits the contours of the face and this will aid the issue of glasses steaming up for those who wear spectacles. The comfortable fit was created through the use of 3D modelling to come up with appropriate design and fabrication process.

Digital Journal s Tim Sandle wearing an AirPop mask.

Digital Journal’s Tim Sandle wearing an AirPop mask.

While the company’s statement about filter efficiency cannot be measured, and the data supplied shows appropriate efficiency, from the design and ergonomics perspective the masks are extremely comfortable and over come many of the issues that come with lower quality mask.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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