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UB-led team working to use 3D printing technology to make reusable N-95-like respirators

A prototype has already been submitted to the FDA for emergency approval.
Credit: WGRZ
UB South

AMHERST, N.Y. — As the challenge to supply for personal protective equipment meets the demand continues, a UB-led team is using 3D printing technology to make re-usable N-95-like respirators.

The group is led by team member Peter Elkin, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB and professor in the Department of Medicine. It includes local manufacturers and 3D-printing enthusiasts. A prototype has already been sent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency approval.

“This is a coordinated effort that cuts across UB’s research enterprise and involves Buffalo’s entrepreneurial digital manufacturers. Very quickly, a team of scientists, engineers and doctors coalesced, with each member offering their support and expertise to address what’s become a severe need to fight the spread of COVID-19,” said project coordinator Albert Titus, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.

Instead of the hard plastic most 3D printed respirators are made of, the team is using a malleable plastic that requires more expertise to print. They've also designed five different respirator sizes to allow for different facial features for men and for women.

The life-saving machine prototype is considered re-usable because it would be able to be sanitized after each use.

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