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3D printing saves lives – Vienna research project provides replacement for much-sought-after FFP3 masks

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Bild: Wiener Stadtwerke

(Vienna, 27 May 2020) Vienna universities, Vienna municipal utilities (Wiener Stadtwerke) and Vienna Hospital Association (KAV) are collaborating on a research project to develop standards-compliant filter units for breathing masks for the coronavirus pandemic. The housings are produced by 3D printing and the masks have undergone practical testing by MedUni Vienna doctors and Vienna Fire Brigade. The PPE masks have already been tested and approved by the Austrian Research and Test Institute (OFI). They are therefore suitable for use in highly sensitive areas. They will provide the highest level of protection against infection in ICUs and in all areas where there is contact with highly infectious patients. This prototype will now be used as a basis for mass production in Austria.

The municipal utility companies have worked closely with the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna on this project. The corporate divisions Facilitycomfort (facility services), Wiener Netze (energy distribution), Wien Energie (energy production) and Wiener Linien (public transport) have had their 3D printers working at full capacity to print, refine and finish prototypes.

The design drawings and 3D data for the filter units come from the working group led by Markus Aspelmeyer at the University of Vienna's Faculty of Physics and the prototypes were assembled in Wolfgang Drexler's laboratory at MedUni Vienna. The 3D data were sent to ‘Sparox', an innovative project of Wien Energie that is an online marketplace for spare parts for the energy sector and also specialises in 3D printing.

3D prints to contain the virus
Medical PPE masks are in short supply on the world market and, if they are available at all, are being sold at exorbitantly high prices. Using the filter units that have been developed, Austria will soon be able to mass-produce its own breathing masks for use in the coronavirus pandemic.