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A look at the movement to make homemade face masks for healthcare workers

April 20, 2020

Do you have vacuum cleaner bags or kitchen towels on hand? Companies like furniture maker Inside Weather are sharing designs to help small businesses and individuals make personal protective gear for vulnerable medical equipment.

5 min read

Last year, there was a period when I needed to buy a new chair. Instagram knew that, of course, so while browsing through my friends, babies, dogs, and weddings vacation photos, I became intimately acquainted with a number of contemporary and affordable furniture companies, including an Inside Weather call. From where I am right now, in the midst of a pandemic that threatens to claim up to 200,000 American lives before it ends, it's hard to understand the hours I once had to think about lounge chairs. And it turns out that Ben Parsa, CEO of Inside Weather, feels just like me.

A look at the movement to make homemade face masks for healthcare workersA look at the movement to make homemade face masks for healthcare workers

Parsa's brother is the director of programs at the San Joaquín general hospital, and he approached Ben because the hospital, like thousands in the country, was starting to run out of personal protective equipment. “I come from an industrial design environment, and at Inside Weather we have a team of industrial designers along with dynamic manufacturing capabilities at our factory in Sacramento,” explains Parsa. Along with the hospital, we identified three primary focus areas: face masks, masks, and containers. We quickly prototyped the designs and after receiving positive feedback from the medical team, we started producing 5,000 masks and six containers. ”

Image credit: Inside Weather

Since last Thursday, many other hospitals have approached Inside Weather asking for help with the production of protective equipment. Soon, Para realized that his designs for making masks, masks, and containers (the capsules that are put around a patient's head while the doctor or nurse intubate him, one of the most risky maneuvers for exposure to the virus) , could be recreated by other people in the country. So they launched the Open Source Project . “We have put the designs on the web for free so that any small business with the ability to produce it can help their local community,” says Parsa.

The Open Source Project has downloadable instructions, research done on the most effective materials and “patterns” for masks and masks. He also cites a study from the University of Cambridge in which they found that household materials that are most effective in virus filtration are vacuum cleaner bags (94.4 percent effective), kitchen towels (83.2 percent effective) and cotton blend shirts (74.6 percent effective).

Inside Weather's efforts are part of a collective mobilization that has happened in recent weeks. Big companies like Gap, Eddie Bauer, Hanes, Ralph Lauren, Canada Goose and many others have changed their production to create medical gowns and face masks, while others work against the clock to share information that helps small businesses and individuals to contribute. About two weeks ago, a San Francisco engineer and entrepreneur named Gus Cavalcanti started a Facebook group called Open Source COVID-19 Medical Supplies , which already has about 60,000 members and has shared more than 60 documents with key information for making respirators. , surgical masks, masks, antibacterial and much more. On March 19, Copper3D released the plans to print a reusable N95 mask in 3D, and on March 27, the software company EPAM launched its own surgical mask design . A team at MIT is said to be racing against the clock to launch open source to build an emergency manual fan that can be built at $ 400 (the regular cost of this fan is $ 30,000).

Meanwhile, the Project N95 website is connecting providers of personal protective equipment with medical providers who need this equipment. Since March 20, the site has been contacted by 2,229 institutions that say they are facing a shortage of 332,646,272 units of personal protective equipment for the next 30 days. Yes, you read well.

If you are a small business or an individual (perhaps sitting at home, in the armchair, checking your Instagram), with time and an extra cloth in your kitchen, you can help. Even a single mask can make a difference.

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