Dr David Thorne
Dr David Thorne, Additive Manufacturing Research Engineer within the Aerospace Research and Innovation Center (ARIC) at Khalifa University, helped design a mask that meets the stringent requirements of N95 masks. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Researchers in the UAE have developed an alternative to the N95 masks, after healthcare workers and other frontline healthcare professionals faced a shortage amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Khalifa University of Science and Technology announced that a team of researchers at its Aerospace Research and Innovation Center (ARIC) is in the process of developing the design of a ‘Reusable 3D Printed Mask’, as a potential replacement for standard N95 masks.

The team is currently developing various aspects of the design, taking into consideration requirements including filtration performance, geometry/fit, flexibility, material suitability for medical applications, and manufacturability. Medically graded materials were used in the manufacture of the components.

A prototype has already been printed and once completed, an assessment will be performed before it gets qualified and approved.

The N95 respirators and surgical face masks are personal protective equipment (PPE) that protect the wearer from airborne particles and from liquid contaminating the face. They are critical supplies for health care workers and other medical first responders.

Dr Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice-President, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, said: “Community-relevant research has always remained a key pillar of our strategy and we are keen to offer our resources to support R&D in this area, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic."

"The current situation is unprecedented in history, and has created challenges that require smart scientific solutions through innovation. We believe through the research work at ARIC, we would be able to offer a suitable solution to tackle the challenges posed by the pandemic and protect our frontline defense with this mask.”

As a leading research center focused on advanced manufacturing and robotics, ARIC has previously develop efficient techniques for manufacturing advanced structures and novel procedures for the automated manufacturing and assembly of aerospace components.