AM in the time of COVID-19Medical AM

Materialise develops 3D printed connector for non-invasive PEEP masks

Non-invasive masks could alleviate strain on mechanical ventilator supplies

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Belgian 3D printing company Materialise has developed a 3D printed conversion kit to create oxygen PEEP masks which could help to reduce the strain on mechanical ventilator supplies. The mask is designed to be fabricated from easily accessible medical equipment and the 3D printed Materialise NIP (non-invasive PEEP mask) Connector.

While mechanical ventilators are in short supply and high demand, medical companies and institutions around the world are trying to find solutions to help healthcare systems treat COVID-19 patients. With decades of experience in the medical 3D printing sector, Materialise has been an active part of this effort, developing a number of innovative products for containing or treating the novel coronavirus, including a 3D printed door handle attachment, a 3D printed shopping cart handle and a 3D printed connector to adapt Scuba masks to allow for air filtration and oxygen supply.

The company’s latest development is perhaps one of the most vital: a 3D printed oxygen PEEP mask which facilitates breathing by applying positive pressure in the lungs. Though not suitable as a replacement for mechanical ventilators, the masks could help to reduce the amount of time patients need to be connected to a mechanical ventilator, which could free up the critical medical equipment for others.

In collaboration with Professor Wilfried De Backer, pulmonologist and the director of respiratory imaging company FLUIDDA, Materialise has designed a 3D printed connector that converts standard hospital equipment into a non-invasive PEEP mask (NIP) which can be connected to an oxygen supply. According to Materialise, the mask is designed to extend the amount of time before a patient requires a mechanical ventilator. The mask, which can easily be assembled by healthcare providers, is made from a non-invasive ventilation (NIV) mask, a filter and a PEEP valve.

Materialise PEEP mask

Professor De Backer explained how the mask could make a difference: “The question when do we start with the mask is I think when the patient is getting worse and there is a higher need for oxygen. This is the ideal time to switch from a pure oxygen mask, where you just deliver oxygen, to a mask that is also delivering this positive pressure in the airways, pushing back the fluids in the lung and allowing for a better uptake of oxygen. If we can give positive pressure, and we keep the situation stable, the patient stable, we can avoid more invasive steps. For the caregiver, because the mask fits well, meaning without a leak, and there is a filter added to the solution, there is not as much of a risk in spreading the virus in the environment.”

Materialise is now fast tracking the regulatory registration of the 3D printed connector and mask in Europe and the U.S. and is also supporting a clinical trial to test the impact of the mask on COVID-19 patients. First results from the trial are expected within the next two weeks. Once approval is given, the company is prepared to scale up production, printing the NIP Connectors at its ISO 13485 certified facilities in Belgium and Plymouth, Michigan, as well as at certified partner facilities. Incidentally, Materialise is also seeking partners to support its effort.

“3D printing is playing a crucial role in fighting the global coronavirus pandemic by making it possible to develop innovative solutions and have them available worldwide very quickly,” said Brigitte De Vet, Vice President of Materialise Medical. “At the same time, it is crucial that the medical products we put on the market are safe and effective. Materialise has decades of experience in certified medical 3D printing which allows us to bring 3D printed devices to the market quickly and safely.”

To learn more about how 3D printing can be used to support the production of ventilator and respirator parts, read this comprehensive guide by 3dpbm co-founder Davide Sher. Other COVID-19 resources for the additive sector can be found in our dedicated AM for COVID-19 Forum.

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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