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USC initiates 3-D printed face masks and face shields

During the COVID-19 pandemic, architects have played a significant role in fighting the public health emergency. Ar. Sanchit Mehta, a protégé of Ar. Kapil Mehta has reported a groundbreaking initiative to supplement the hard work and perseverance of the medical community worldwide. The students and faculty of the University of Southern California have come together to fabricate protective gear such as face masks and face shields for the health workers’ safety when treating the infected patients.

Deeply affected by the lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits, Mehta says, If we run out of the N-95 masks in the upcoming months, these 3D printed masks are a backup plan as they are better than wearing the basic surgical masks.” 

Students have employed their 3-D printers and laser cutters to make the visors, which are delivered to the hospital to be distributed among the front-line medical staff. The shields and masks are outlined with laser-cut plastic sheets that cover the face, and their modular attributes make the mask reusable. A simple design, the equipment has been created keeping in mind its wear-and-tear aspect. These 3-D printed components can be produced using a HEPA filter inserted in the grid and a perimeter sealant, and they are ready for use. Alvin Huang, Director, Director, USC Graduate Architecture says, “These masks are a step above using handmade masks and bandanas. Being a university-spread initiative, we are working as fast as possible to ensure a back-up plan in case of a shortage of health supplies. These are reusable plastic masks and can be regularly sanitized before use. Also, we can replace their filters when needed and they could be a better alternative than N-95 masks.”

The USC School of Architecture has printed 3-D printed masks for the Keck School of Medicine, USC; today, many Los Angeles schools, local architectural firms, faculty, and alumni have come together to support the cause. The non-profit organization AIA Los Angeles has sponsored the USC School of Architecture’s efforts and encouraged them to be part of managing this health crisis. This initiative inspired the world to endorse similar initiatives as per their geographical situation, as rigid steps need to be taken to flatten the curve and restore normalcy as soon as possible.