Given the shortage of N95 masks , a team of bioengineers and clinical experts from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are developing, still in prototype form, a new sustainable solution for healthcare workers. to provide protection during the pandemic.
The iMASC system. Preliminary results have been published in the British Medical Journal Open .
The material selected for the iMASC is a silicone rubber that can withstand heat up to 300 ° C and is used in a wide variety of products, including silicone baking sheets, underwear, medical implants, and some medical devices. .
The team created the masks using injection molding, a common manufacturing technique in which a liquid material is poured into a mold cavity to shape it. Elastic straps secure the mask in place and two replaceable filters keep solid particles out .
The team tested various sterilization techniques on the masks, including autoclaving, soaking in a bleach solution, and soaking in isopropanol. While 10 autoclave cycles made the masks slightly stiffer, there were no major differences in the sterilized masks compared to the masks prior to sterilization .
Using three-dimensional modeling, the team evaluated how the mask could fit different wearers and how much force it would take to keep the mask secure on a variety of face shapes and sizes. In addition, the team recruited Brigham healthcare workers in a small fit-test study.
Of the 20 participants who performed fit tests, 100% completed the process successfully . When asked about their preferences, participants responded that:
- 60 percent would be willing to wear the iMASC system instead of a surgical mask, while 20 percent had no preference.
- 25 percent would prefer the iMASC system over an N95 mask, while 60 percent indicated they had no preference.