3D-printed and reusable N95-like respirators being developed by UB-led team

Posted at 1:37 PM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 13:37:56-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A University at Buffalo-led research team has submitted a prototype 3D-printed and reusable N95-like respirator for emergency FDA approval.

The team includes local manufacturers and 3D-printing enthusiasts and the submission was led by team member Peter Elkin, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB and professor in the Department of Medicine.

“This is a coordinated effort that cuts across UB’s research enterprise and involves Buffalo’s entrepreneurial digital manufacturers. Very quickly, a team of scientists, engineers and doctors coalesced, with each member offering their support and expertise to address what’s become a severe need to fight the spread of COVID-19,” says project coordinator Albert Titus, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.

The team says most 3D-printed respirators are made of hard plastic which lacks the sealing capabilities of traditional respirators, which is why the team is using a more malleable plastic that requires more expertise to print. The team also has plans for five different sizes that take into account male and female facial features.

Each respirator would have an opening to insert a filter and could be sanitized after each use, making them reusable.

“These are just a few of the ideas we’re working on,” says Titus. “With the need more urgent than ever, this team is really pushing itself to come up with effective yet practical designs.”