How UT Health Austin is 3D printing N95 masks personalized for clinicians 

University of Texas at Austin is using facial scan and 3D printing technologies to create custom N95 masks based on the clinician's facial shape. 

The mask, dubbed the Contour3D, is made of non-porous material that can be sterilized in an autoclave and features a screw-cap end that allows used filters to be swapped out for fresh inserts. UT Health Austin partnered with a team of engineers, medical professionals, software and IT experts and 3D printing specialists to create the mask. The entire process took about five weeks. 

The project team knew the protective quality of the mask's filter was critically important to perfect, but comfort also played a big role in the design process. 

“As a physician, I can tell that, first and foremost, a protective mask has to maintain a good seal on your skin,” said Amy Young, MD, UT Health Austin’s CMO, according to the health system's report. "But comfort is important too, since clinicians will be wearing these masks for hours at a time. We’ve all seen the images of doctors and nurses coming off a 12-hour shift with an angry red outline around their nose and mouth. So making a mask that fits tight, but can be worn comfortably all day or all night, was a challenge.”

The 3D printing process begins with a clinician facial scan, which they can use a smartphone to do and submit the scan through a custom cloud portal. An algorithm then identifies the mask template that best matches the clinician's face shape and customizes the mask shell to the contour of the facial scan. The clinician can then purchase their own personalized mask from the closest participating manufacturing company, which takes about two days. 

UT Health Austin soon plans to expand Contour3D manufacturing to make the mask available to be printed on 3D printers across the U.S. for local medical providers to purchase, according to the report. 

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