In response to global medical supply shortages caused by COVID-19, OESH is developing and producing items believed most relevant based on: (1) Casey’s communications with a national network of physicians (2) Our knowledge drawn from our global supplier relationships and (3) Our communication with makers around the world. The most significant need we are addressing now is face protection:
3D Printed Respirator Masks
We’ve been working on 3D printing masks or mask covers. We’re proud to be developing these in collaboration with Luna Innovations and expect our prototype to be completed and ready for production by the end of this week. The material that we are using to print the masks is the same comfortable, recyclable, washable elastomer material that we use to 3D print our soles. Our design was initially inspired by NanoHack model by Copper3D.
Mask Adjusters (aka ear relievers)
The most common mask, a “surgical” mask has ear loops which cause irritation behind the ears with prolonged wearing. Knowing that clinicians indeed will be wearing these masks for prolonged periods of time, we are 3D printing Mask Adjusters designed by Peak Sport Products Co. and HP, made available by HP. Mask adjusters connect to the ear loop straps, eliminating pressure and the potential for irritation behind the ears. The mask adjusters we are printing are especially comfortable because they are, again, made from the super comfortable elastomer material that we use to make our shoes. We’ve already produced several dozen and have the capability to manufacture up to thousands per day.
Update: After receiving feedback from healthcare professionals, we tweaked the design to better suit their needs and our manufacturing capabilities. Here is an STL file of our revised mask adjuster so you can print your own!
Makers around the world are innovating and posting new ways to make facemasks. Most of the materials to make facemasks are readily available, e.g., scrap fabric and HEPA filter material from vacuum bags; However, we have seen a pervasive need for elastic straps. In response, we developed and tested an elastic strap that can be tied onto facemasks. Even better than the elastic straps currently being used for commercial facemasks, the ones we’ve developed are more secure because of the unique friction fit that our elastomer material provides (that same unique comfortable fit in our Sandals and Townies). And of course unlike commercial elastic straps, they are also fully washable and recyclable. We are now capable and ready to produce tens of thousands of straps per day.
As always we remain committed to sustainability. We are excited to be able to produce these components using the same 100 percent recyclable, machine washable, dishwasher safe material that we use for our footwear. After each use, these 3D printed components can be cleaned and safely reused. And at the end of their life cycle, they can even be recycled into our factory’s footwear products.
3D Knit Masks
In addition to 3D printing, we are experimenting with our computerized knitting machine to quickly manufacture 3D shaped textile masks. We are developing code for these masks 3D knitting with an inner and outer layer and spacer material between for air particle filtration. They will be washable and reusable and can be combined with 3D printed components for a complete mask.
Update: We have been donating these knit masks to non-medical essential workers in our community. These masks are not certified, but have passed qualitative N95 or higher fit tests, including irritant smoke test. We brought some to the Haven, which takes care of some of our most vulnerable neighbors. Here is a very cute pic of Fran who works in the Haven’s kitchen wearing one of our knit masks:
We look forward to sharing our files with entities who can 3D Print flexible material, and /or who have industrial double bed knitting machines. If you have other ideas of ways we could be helping, please let us know on social media: Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter!
Meanwhile, with respect to our footwear, you have asked and all of our footwear are fully machine washable.
As of now, OESH continues to be able to fill all online shoe orders. In fact, your support is allowing us to develop the designs above. We couldn’t do it without you! We have cancelled our Saturday open factory hours for the foreseeable future. All OESHers please order through our website. Inside the OESH factory we are following the current social distancing guidelines, and doing our best to keep all OESH employees and OESHers safe by preventing the spread of COVID-19.
We’ll get through this together!