America Makes Launches Challenges to Develop PPE

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – As part of the effort to provide frontline workers with the protective equipment they need, America Makes has launched two programs to engage its members: Fit to Face Mask Design Challenge and the COVID-19 Maker Challenge.

““Both of these opportunities seek to tap into the amazing innovation we’ve seen to date from the entire AM community during this crisis,” said America Makes Executive Director John Wilczynski in a statement. “This industry is uniquely positioned to take on these challenges as we have the ability to rapidly design and test products that will solve very real problems for frontline workers.”   

The first, Fit to Face, runs through April 26 and tasks additive manufacturers with designing 3D-printed N95 respirator masks that fit tightly to the wearer’s face.

Five geometries and models will be made available to participants, who can create up to three models. Five models will be selected for submission to the Veterans Administration for fast-track review and testing, with the top designs announced May 11.

“Right now, in the fight against COVID-19 in this country and around the world, the greatest and most acute PPE need is face masks,” Wilczynski said. “The goal of the Fit to Face Mask Design Challenge is to rapidly innovate face mask designs with quality solutions that ensure a proper fit and better seal around the face.” 

The Fit to Face challenge is open to all “innovators, 3D printers and designers” around the world. All submissions must be open source designs. More information, including a packet on data for the challenge, is available here.

The second challenge will be held April 25 through May 3 and is held alongside Challenge America and VHA Innovation Ecosystem. The challenges asks manufacturers to submit potential problems for frontline workers stemming from COVID-19 and develop solutions.

Teams will conduct virtual weeklong evaluations of the challenges before a two-day “make-a-thon” May 2 and 3, where they will make prototypes of their solutions suitable for rapid manufacturing.

Registration is available at

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.