May.29, 2013

When firefighters go into a rescue situation, two factors can make a huge difference to whether they come out again. How well they can breathe. And how well they can see. Design Reality, a UK based design consultancy, has recently used the Objet260 Connex multi-material 3D printer to design and prototype an improved version of gas mask respirators for the UK Ministry of Defence and US Fire Services.

When new safety standards in the US came into effect, Design Reality needed to make better gas masks to reduce CO2 re-breathe levels to below 1% with minimal component changes, to ensure Fire Departments could meet the new safety standards without excess cost.

Thanks to 3D printing, the team was able to develop the respirator rapidly. Designs went from CAD and stereolithography files in their Wales offices on Monday, to working prototypes ready for testing at their partner's facility North Carolina on Friday.

Using Objet260 Connex system the team were able to accurately prototype every single aspect of the mask, from the rubber seals to the rigid clips and fasteners to the transparent visor, said Stratasys. "And these rubber/rigid parts were printed together as a single homogenous piece - thereby eliminating the work of separately printing and gluing the different material elements of the mask by hand!"

Troy Baker, Managing Director of Design Reality tries out the new General Service Respirator

Their new gas mask respirators successfully exceeded the primary brief – CO2 re-breathe levels were reduced to 0.75%, and the need for a ground-up redesign was avoided. In addition, it provides also an improved comfort in-use, and a better field of view for the firefighter.

"The respirator is no mere gas mask." said Lord Bach, Minister for Defence Procurement. "It will give our troops unparalleled levels of protection in the field from all manners of threats."



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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