The NRC is joining forces with Dorma Filtration to help make N95 masks using 3D printing, injection moulding and digital technology. N95 masks represent essential and effective PPE to minimize exposure to airborne particles that can contain viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, which is responsible for the outbreak of COVID-19. This project will not only allow the NRC and Dorma Filtration to increase the availability of PPE for Canadians and the international market, but it will help reduce production costs and speed up manufacturing of this new line of N95 masks.
"With more than 30 years of experience in polymer processing, including in injection moulding and 3D printing, NRC researchers have developed an important expertise in polymers. Using our unique facilities and high-level technologies in Boucherville, Quebec, our team will provide valuable expertise to optimize the use of 3D printing and injection moulding processes for the manufacturing of N95 masks," says Dr. Mihaela Mihai, the NRC's lead researcher for this project.
Dorma Filtration, a Montreal-based health care service company founded in 2016 by a team of medical doctors, started producing and distributing 3D-printed customized N95 masks to local hospitals and clinics in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
Dorma Filtration's masks are made using an innovative mobile application based on facial scanning and generative design, which enables the creation of personalized and well-fitted masks for health care workers as well as for all Canadians. Once the user's facial dimensions have been scanned and measured by the app, the data is immediately transmitted to 3D printers, which then employ laser power to process polymers into a form-fitting comfortable mask with superior sealing efficiency that can be sterilized and reused multiple times.
"Being a health care worker myself, once COVID-19 hit, I was immediately attuned to the lack of reliable supply of personal protective equipment on the front lines," said Dr. René Caissie, co-founder of Dorma and Montreal-based maxillofacial surgeon. "Without delay, we teamed up with leading domestic designers and suppliers of the raw materials needed to build these masks, as well as great scientific minds from the NRC, to rapidly develop this innovative line of lightweight masks that fit like a second skin."
By working with the NRC, Dorma Filtration will manufacture and commercialize cost-effective, environmentally friendly and reusable N95 masks that are fully sourced and made in Canada through the use of additive manufacturing and on a larger scale by injection moulding. Dorma is also collaborating with the NRC to fine-tune the manufacturing process and to run these injection-moulded masks through a gamut of tests for the purpose of obtaining Health Canada approval.