FAQs for General Public:
If you are a doctor, member of medical staff or just common person, please search answers to your questions bellow:
- Can I as doctor or just a common person get the ready mask for my personal use or for use of my medical staff or endangered family member?
We are very sorry for your difficult situation. At the moment, however, it is not in our power to supply individual customers, although we would be very happy to do this. All of the production in the Czech Republic has been assigned to the Czech Ministry of Health. The Ministry will deside about the distribution of the ready masks.
We can assure you that our researchers are now preparing the model of the mask for mass production on plastic injection machines. Once this method of production is launched, we will be able to provide a significantly higher number of masks – we target up to 10,000 pieces per day. It is expected that this will improve the critical situation caused by shortage of protective equipment. This should be ready in one or two weeks.
- If I cannot get the ready mask, can I have the 3D printing data for my personal production?
Due to the technology chosen, which guarantees optimal properties such as flexibility, low weight, impermeability and biocompatibility, this prototype is not intended for normal printing and also for home printers. Therefore, we cannot even provide print data for self-printing.
- Is it possible to get the 3D printing data for our home printers?
Data will be shared only with the holders of MultiJet Fusion (MJF) 3D printers. The mask is not ready and has not been certified for any other use and printing technology.
- What is the difference between MJF and the printer we have most often at home?
Unlike the MJF technology, the most widely used printing technology is the FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling). FDM printing creates matter in the form of a microscopic grid. This method is critical for an effective respirator, as there is a risk that air may pass through the grid without filtration at some points during breathing. It does not guarantee 100% virus protection.
We tried to experiment with a final surface etching treatment that would seal these microscopic holes, but no subsequent treatment satisfactorily ensured absolute material impermeability. In contrast, MJF printing does not create a grid. The resulting mask is perfectly compact and completely impermeable even at the microscopic level.
A respirator that fails to provide maximal protection makes no sense!
Therefore, we strongly advise against printing of respirator at your home printers!
To better show you what we’re talking about: HP Multijet Fusion printers are high-capacity industrial printers. You can see that this is not really comparable to conventional home printers, for example in this video of the manufacturer (type 4200, which we use for respirator development).
- Is it possible to use the widely spread models from the Czech company Prusa Research?
We have been in touch with Prusa Research. Of course, we were also thinking about the possibility of using the widely used FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) technology, but we are afraid that the material and manufacturing processes used will not guarantee the necessary throughput parameters. However, we do not rule out that we will not deal with this method of production in the next phase.
- Is it possible to print on home 3D printers? If not, will it be possible soon and when?
This prototype is not intended for normal printing or home printers. Our goal is to develop a certifiable product that is safe and meets all necessary standards. This means that it will not be possible or expedient to provide relevant guidance to individuals.
- How long does it take to print one mask? What is the daily capacity of one machine?
At this stage, it is difficult to estimate how many devices can be produced per day, but we assume 50-70 pieces. We know that there are 7 HP MultiJet Fusion 3D printers in the Czech Republic, around 1000 worldwide. Daily capacity should exceed 500 pieces, but it depends on how many partners in the Czech Republic will be involved in production.
That is why we will focus on production by injection molding (see the following answer). The development of such a mold is more demanding, even for the time needed to start production, but it allows to produce hundreds of pieces per hour on a single machine. This would allow up to ten thousand pieces a day.
- What is Distributed Production?
3D printing is optimal for printing a respirator anywhere at the point of current need and is an illustrative example of the use of distributed production that we are dealing with at CIIRC at the European Center of Excellence RICAIP. To make it happen, it is sufficient to send the production data in the form of a computer file, which is loaded into the printer. Exactly the same product as the original one can be produced immediately. However, the current situation requires to produce even more respirators in a short time than the available 3D printers can handle. Therefore it is necessary to prepare mass production based on plastic injection technologies. However, we assume that we will also use 3D printing for the preparation of injection molds.