Developing 3D-printed protective gear for Finnish healthcare during COVID19 outbreak in 2020

During the outbreak of COVID19 pandemic in 2020, METES together with bloft Design Lab and other partners decided to begin preparations for the design and rapid production of 3D printed protective equipment.

On April 6th 2020 we launched an official funding campaign via platform. The goal was to collect enough funds to cover the production of the first batch of protective face visors. In addition to face visors, the goal was to start producing 3D-printed half-masks by the highest protection standards.

The preparations

We were able to start the production of face visors immediately at a rate of about 1,000 per day. In addition, we were surveying healthcare needs, for example for important spare parts needed in intensive care, so that we can meet this demand if necessary. We reserved production capacity and the necessary materials for manufacturing in the metropolitan area, and we were able to start production with a delay of only a few days.

The Metropolia Entrepreneurship Society is had the role of coordinating collaboration between the healthcare industry, universities and local manufacturing facilities. bloft Design Lab was in charge of the design and manufacturing the face visors.

These face visors were unique in many ways. bloft face visor was safely re-usable. All parts were able to be washed with relevant chemicals or boiling in hot water.

Rd40 / NATO standard half masks

In addition to face visors, we were developing a half mask based on the Dräger X-Plore 3300 M and suitable filters. The filters will use the Rd40 / NATO standard, unlike the Dräger model, so it can also use filters from other manufacturers.

We are were exploring three different filter material options for the development of our own FFP2 / 3-level filter. The filter is specifically designed to protect against the Corona virus. Both the mask and the filter candidates were ment to be tested at VTT.

In order to produce the necessary equipment, funding from government was crucial. We applied for funding from several funds. In order to present an relevant and serious case, we conducted a market-research, applied for professional quality analysis and worked closely with actual healthcare professionals in order to address their needs directly.

During the design and prototype development phase, Finnish government was actively purchasing the needed protection gear from China. On Tuesday, April 7, respirators were flown from China to Finland on a Finnair plane. According to the Center for Security of Supply (huoltovarmuuskeskus), two million surgical masks and 230,000 respirators-masks came on board. On Wednesday, April 8, the authority announced that investigations show that the supplies do not meet European standards for hospital use.

On April 7, Finnair's plane brought two million surgical masks to Finland. The picture of the machine was tweeted by Tomi Lounema, director of the Security of Supply Center at the time. Image: Huoltovarmuuskeskus.