Help Hospitals Using Your 3D Printer

Engineers are trying to build cheap medical machines. This is how they are doing it and how you can contribute to stopping Coronavirus.

It is no secret that hospitals do not have enough material like ventilators or masks.

What were lacking [in Italy] were ventilators to go with the other equipment. But then the Red Cross offered 30. “When at 10pm, the new came through of those 30 ventilators I almost wept”, said Mr Gallera

—The Economist, “The race against time”

Many teams around the world are creating material for Hospitals, so they can be better equipped. Keep reading to see which objects are. You will be able to print them yourself by the end of the article.


Doctors are increasingly anxious that New York — like other states — won’t have enough of the breathing machines that are key to fighting the coronavirus.

— The New York Times, “N.Y. May Need 18,000 Ventilators Very Soon. It Is Far Short of That.”

Some Governments, like the UK, are trying to cope with this lack of ventilators by formerly asking car manufacturers to build them. On the other hand, several teams around the world are focusing on open-source to build a cheap fast-to-make ventilator. An article on Forbes Magazine describes a group on Facebook that designed a ventilator and is yet to test it.

They could help by increasing production and also by reducing its price. The average hospital-level machine might cost $25,000 in normal times according to Forbes Magazine.

A team called Reesistencia in Spain designed another ventilator in March 2020. They will test it on Monday the 23rd of March 2020. This initiative could save millions of lives.

“DYI ventilator” by Resistencia Team on Twitter

Apparently the two open-source prototypes are similar but they use a different mechanism. At the end of March and the start of April, we will see if these machines work and how easy are they to build and maintain.

Face Shields

The design (stl file) is already available. Lots of people in Spain are already printing the visors and giving them away to hospitals. In hospitals, they add an A4 acrylic sheet and rubber band (available in Amazon).

3D printed face shield by Josef Prusa on Youtube

Many companies, schools, and universities are giving their 3D printers to employees so they can print more visors at home.

I am participating in this initiative by CoronavirusMakers in Cordoba. Cordoba is a small city in the south of Spain. That region only was able to build more than 1000 visors on the 21st and 22nd of March and give it for free to Reina Sofia Hospital. This area is starting to decrease the cases of coronavirus and is becoming an example in Spain.

“Coronavirus Cases on 21st of March” by the Spanish Government on https://covid19.isciii.es/


We can differentiate two types of masks: fabric masks and particle masks. Masks made out of fabric are just useful for sick patients (to not spread the virus). So if someone coughs close to you and the little particles go to your masks, the virus will pass through it and enter your body.

Engineers are investigating how to make a fast and cheap particle mask. The purpose is to build a mask that can filter and kill the virus. To build it, we need to understand how protection works.

Protection Classes

Using Europe’s normative, there are three protection classes to filter fine particles in the air depending on the total leakage and filtering of particle sizes, these are:

  • FFPT1. Protection class FFP1 respirator masks are made for working environments in which neither poisonous nor fibrogenic kinds of dust and aerosols are to be expected. They filter at least 80 % of the particles.
“Applications for different types of protection classes” by UVEX on their Respiratory Protection Guide
  • FFPT2. Protection class FFP2 respirator masks are made for working environments in which deleterious and mutagenic particles can be found in the breathing air. Respirator masks of this class must contain at least 94 % of the particles. Protection class FFP2 respirator masks are often worn in the metal and mining industry.
  • FFPT3. Protection class FFP3 respirator masks offer maximum protection from breathing air pollution. The total leakage may amount to a maximum of 5% and they must filter 99% of all particles. They are often used in the chemistry industry.

FFPT3 protection is the one needed to avoid viruses and bacteria. Although governments advise using N95 masks for a single-use.

Note: N95 is the American normative, those masks stop 95% of particles.

Note: Respirator masks need also to avoid leaks by adapting our masks to human anatomy.

How To Create a 3D Printed Mask

We would need to get three things right in order to make efficient masks:

  1. The mask is able to adapt to every face. This means that there should be silicone on the border of the plastic to make a better adaptation
  2. The plastic does not let viruses pass. 3D printed objects are made by fine layers of plastic. But these layers have small holes between them were the virus could pass through. Most engineers are fixing this by painting the mask so those small holes are covered with paint.
  3. The filter kills the virus. This is the most difficult part. Some engineers are experimenting using UV light instead of a filter. UV light kills the virus, but it could hurt the skin of the person wearing it. Others are checking filters with like HELPA or ULPA are able to stop 99.99% and 99.995% of particles respectively.

This project is still a work in progress. CoronavirusMakers made a video showing all their progress and information available.

Update: The Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics, and Cybernetics developed a 3D printed model. They got an FFP3 certification. It is not recommended to print them at home, but they provided an email for companies to get more information (covid@ciirc.cvut.cz).

Thanks for Reading!

I hope you can be able to help doctors in your area with the shortages of material. Hopefully, citizens will be able to help to create material and the production will increase exponentially too!

Take care :)


Engineer studying an MBA. I am interested in Business, Sexology, and Engineering. Website: https://marvalero.github.io/Oohmyclit/english

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store