As the COVID-19 crisis continues to evolve, the medical community has realized the inadequacy of our international reserves of personal protective equipment (PPE). A chief concern is conserving supplies of the N95 respirator, a mask designed by medical and industry professionals to combat disease transmission in contagious environments.
Philip Brown, PhD, assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering at Wake Forest School of Medicine, asked the question: How can we create a mask that doesn’t need to be thrown away after each use, that wouldn’t require complex manufacturing processes to create and that could free hospital staff to focus on their patients rather than on preserving PPE?
A team of professionals from Wake Forest, MIT Media Lab and Cofab Design founded Open Standard Respirator to answer these questions. As a nonprofit organization, Open Standard Respirator’s sole focus is creating a medically certified, easily manufactured, and supply chain resilient alternative to the N95 disposable mask. The Open Standard Respirator Open 1 model is an open-source design free from intellectual property rights and proprietary barriers that will make this mask readily accessible.
While typical device creation can take years, Brown and the Open Standard Respirator design team were able to turn around a well-performing prototype within a matter of weeks. Once the mask is certified by the FDA, they hope it will be used worldwide to fight COVID-19. Brown hopes that the open hardware model that led to Open Standard Respirator will serve as an inspiring example of professional collaboration that can be replicated as our nation and our world encounter future challenges.
Note: This product is not yet available for sale in the U.S. and has not been cleared by FDA for use as a respirator. For more information and to sign up for updates, visit OpenStandardRespirator.org.