As a company with a humanitarian vision, our main goal is to help those in need. And during these troubled times, when staying at home and observing social distancing rules became the new normal, we decided to use our creative potential in order to ease the pressure on healthcare systems. We have read many articles that talked about mask shortages, and so we decided to design and produce something to help doctors and nurses fight the coronavirus while staying healthy: the MK Emergency Mask.
Most masks are made to be thrown away. Currently, billions of masks are being produced for one time use, and while they serve their purpose, this unfortunately also becomes an expensive recycling problem. The MK Emergency Mask is reusable, easy to clean and the filters can be changed within seconds. With this project, we want to make the masks durable, cheap to produce and safe to use with the shielding plastic as PPE. Take a look below to see how we did our research, where we got our ideas from, and how the final result looks like.
The benefits of wearing masks
The Coronavirus health crisis is affecting almost everyone around the globe, and many companies find themselves in unprecedented situations. Mine Kafon is no exception, and for a few weeks we have started working from home, in order to ensure the good health and safety of all our staff, and to play our part in flattening the curve. Zoom quickly became the new way to share both morning chats and team meetings. We shifted some equipment from our workshop to the homes of some of our engineers, so that they could continue with practical work. We’re adapting – very often, difficult situations lead to creative ideas!
Mine Kafon’s mission has alwas been a humanitarian one, and that means helping people in times of need. Watching the news, it was clear to us that many countries in Europe were not well prepared for the Coronavirus pandemic. As opposed to other parts of the world such as China, Japan or South Korea, most Europeans don’t have the habit of wearing a mask when they have a cold. The same principle applies in the case of the Coronavirus: if people wear masks, then the spread of the virus will be significantly reduced, even if not completely. The most exposed to the risks of the Coronavirus are healthcare workers, who come into direct contact with infected patients, and usually represent around 20-25% of total infected in each country. If most people remain in the safety of their homes, and at least the healthcare professionals have a sufficient supply of masks, the spread of the virus could potentially be slowed down.
DIY masks and creativity
As a result, started by a trend in China, many people started making their own DIY masks, using a variety of things from kitchen towels to t-shirts and even orange peels. There has been plenty of research on which the best materials are to capture virus particles. The Coronavirus measures approximately 0.1 microns in diameter, which was proven to be easier to capture than a particle measuring 0.3 microns, as explained in this article.
Research has been conducted on materials that are best equipped to keep out the virus particles, and an overview of data aggregation is presented below, courtesy of smartairfilters.com .
Effectiveness of different materials
Breathability of different materials
Of course, we shouldn’t only look at the efficiency of the material – we should also explore if it’s possible to wear a DIY mask made out of various materials. Because if a mask is excellent at keeping particles in or out, but is extremely uncomfortable to wear or does not allow the wearer to breathe normally, then it will never be used for enough time to make a difference. The second figure above looks at the breathability of DIY masks.
Mine Kafon’s idea is to provide masks that would primarily help healthcare professionals in these difficult times. Most of the mask components can be 3D printed at printing farms or even hospitals, if equipped with 3D printers, and can then be distributed to doctors and nurses. Our designers have worked hard during the past week and have come up with a design, which we can either produce upon order, or provide the files for starting the production process.
The current design of the mask, as seen from the front
A side view which highlights the component parts
Once all the parts are printed, the assembly and customisation instructions are as follows:
- Once the mask is done printing, there will be minimal support on the surface facing the printer, in holes. Remove those with pliers (can do it by hands, but it’s convinient to have the right tool )
- Insert the inside cover part inside the mask
- Put straps through the holes on the sides of the faceshield, attach the straps to the back of your head and adjust until you find a comfortable position
- Place a filter in the corresponding space, from the front of the mask, then clips the front cover part using the designated holes
- If you want to change the filter, you can pull on the front cover, or alternatively, press one of the bottom corner of the front cover to make it pop out. Replace the filter, and fit the front cover as done before.
Watch the video to see how our MK Emergency Mask design shaped up, how the mask looks from different angles, and how its various components fit in.
On Friday, 17 April, we got in touch with the Dutch Minister of Health, Hugo de Jonge, responding to a call in providing equipment that could help medical workers across the country. We have sent our idea and design to be reviewed by a panel of experts, and are waiting for approval.
Two masks with different protection screens, side by side
Pierre, our software engineer, was the photoshoot model
A can be seen in the pictures above and below, the masks can easily be secured with the straps, and a variety of protection screens can be fitted, depending on the necessity. The significant advantage of the MK Emergency Masks is that they do not need to be thrown away after one use. Instead, they can be fully sanitised, the filter can be easily changed, and thus they can be used again.
Changing the filters is quick and easy
The masks can be easily secured with the straps