Facemask innovation for frontline NHS workers
Recent studies have shown that wearing medical grade (filtering face piece, or FFP3) masks on COVID wards substantially reduces infections amongst healthcare workers.
But even FFP3 grade has its challenges - not all FFP3 facemasks fit all people, and they obscure the wearer’s mouth which makes communication with patients difficult.
The ideal solution is a custom-fitted mask personalised to the healthcare worker, with an airtight seal around the edges, and side-breathing vents that house the filtering face piece.
Delivering to this exacting specification involved a unique, and wide-ranging collaboration between university researchers and industry. In the early stages of the pandemic, Birmingham researcher Sophie Cox worked with experts from King’s to devise an improved seal for facemasks. from the university’s IP team found a commercial partner that could apply this invention in the shape of MyMaskFit, a company set up by global technology leader
Paul Perera who works with and champions innovation through the Made Smarter UK digital supply chain network.
The company aims to mass-produce customised facemasks, and its founders are well-positioned to do this, with Dr. Gareth Smith, a project officer from Swansea University, and Valerie Bednar, who worked as a critical care nurse in the first wave of the pandemic, bringing their expertise to bear.
The company has worked with computer software company Autodesk, Sheffield University’s Advanced Manufacturing Centre (AMRC), industrial automation company Plyable, manufacturing company RS Components, and Birmingham-based injection moulding company CAMERON PRICE LIMITED.
It has tested it’s masks with Inspec Solutions Ltd, successfully completed a demonstration contract in Wales, and is now ready for UK-wide roll-out.
The resulting mask exceeds DHSE specifications, which were updated on 30th July 2021.
Congratulations to all involved in this far-sighted project, which should help ease the burden on the NHS!