Custom 3D frame enhances peripheral seal of surgical masks
During the COVID-19 pandemic, a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), especially N95 masks, has placed healthcare personnel at particular risk and in urgent need of viable alternatives. Compared with N95 masks, a major weakness of levels 1 to 3 surgical masks is their inability to provide a proper peripheral seal. The Bellus3D team has been collaborating with researchers at Loma Linda University School of Dentistry to improve such seal. A 3D facial scan is obtained using an application such as Bellus3DTM Face App and Bellus3DTM Dental Pro. From the facial scan an individualized or custom-made medical mask frame is printed and placed over the existing mask as an overlay to augment the seal potential of any Level 1-3 mask.
The 3D printed frame, based on the Bellus 3DTM scan, worn over a Level 1-3 mask, has been demonstrated to enhance the peripheral seal of a Level 1-3 mask. These initial qualitative findings are based on industry accepted fit testing methods that meet CDC/NIOSH guidelines. These same guidelines were used to test the peripheral seal properties of the Bellus 3DTM-frame-augmented masks. All tests were performed in the same manner, first testing the N95 mask for proper seal and then using the Bellus 3DTM frame overlay with masks of different levels as a comparison. The test was not intended to evaluate the filtration properties of any of the masks as manufactured by their respective companies. Without the custom frame, all Level 1-3 masks allowed detection of bitter aromatic molecules, whereas the Level 2 and 3 masks with the custom frame prevented the aromatics to be detected inside the mask. While the aromatics were detected for Level 1 mask with the custom frame, it was mostly likely due to the difference in mask material, not the peripheral seal.
Further testing under a controlled environment with additional sample size is needed to derive a statistically based conclusion to determine if the Bellus3D frame augmented with Level 2 or 3 masks can provide a viable surrogate to N95 masks in an emergency situation.
About Loma Linda University School of Dentistry (dentistry.llu.edu)
Since it opened in 1953, Loma Linda University School of Dentistry (LLUSD) has sought to inspire and graduate oral healthcare professionals who combine the highest level of technical, clinical excellence as well as a continual concern for the total wellbeing of each patient consistent with its motto: “Service is our calling.” LLUSD offers the doctor of dental surgery degree; a bachelor of science degree in dental hygiene; and advanced dental education programs in endodontics, implant dentistry, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, and prosthodontics.