YSU Faculty Design 3D-Printed Filters for Medical Masks

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Faculty at Youngstown State University have worked with physicians and nurses at Mercy Health-Youngstown to design a filter cartridge that could help address the shortage of personal protective equipment caused by the coronavirus.

The 3D-printed device is under review by the National Institutes of Health’s Print Exchange. It creates a reusable, adaptable filter cartridge that can be attached to commercially available protective masks.

“The principal advantage of this approach is leveraging existing and available materials to build low-to-medium volumes with 3D printing and then scale to large quantities with a design readily promoted to traditional injection molding,” said Darrell Wallace, YSU professor and program coordinator for manufacturing engineering, in a statement.

Wallace worked with mechanical engineering technology professor Brian Vuksanovich to design the device and last week submitted to the NIH through a portal developed by America Makes to establish a repository of devices used in battling COVID-19.

Other YSU faculty involved include Eric MacDonald, the Friedman Chair for Manufacturing; Jason Walker, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering; John Martin, professor of engineering technology; Pedro Cortes, professor of chemical engineering; Taci Turel, professor of human ecology; Mary Yacavone, professor of health professions; Joseph D’Uva, professor of art; Julie Gentile, director of environmental, occupational, health and safety; and Diana Palardy, professor of world languages and culture.

The project is funded in part by a $2.5 million endowment by Morris and Phyllis Friedman in the YSU College of Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics.

“Our faculty continue to innovate, develop and test potential solutions,” said Mike Hripko, YSU’s vice president for external affairs, government relations and economic development.“In this situation, YSU’s faculty really excels as a solution innovator, policy advisor and consulting partner.”

YSU is considered one of the nation’s top universities for additive manufacturing research and instruction, boasting some of the nation’s top researchers involved in multimillion dollar projects with federal agencies and partnerships around the world, according to the university.

“We have seen so much innovation throughout the additive manufacturing industry related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said John Wilczynski, executive director of America Makes. “The question we’ve repeatedly been asked is, ‘Are these products safe and reliable in a health care setting?’ The design portion of the portal seeks to put clarity around that question for both manufacturers and providers. We believe it is a critical part to allowing the additive industry to effectively meet the needs of front line health care workers.”

America Makes is serving as the central national clearinghouse for additively manufactured design and manufacturing, information about the needs of the health care community, collecting designs from innovators and determining the capabilities of the additive manufacturing community to manufacture such designs. Products, like the one designed by the YSU team, are funneled to the NIH, the Food and Drug Administration and the Veterans Administration for fast track review.

Pictured: A woman wearing a commercial face mask equipped with the 3D-printed filter cartridges designed by YSU faculty and now under review by the National Institutes of Health.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.