[PLUG-TALK] 3D printer geeks: N95 breathing mask valves

Keith Lofstrom keithl at kl-ic.com
Thu Jan 30 17:24:54 PST 2020

First, my posting was about making valves for the
effective N95 variety of facemasks, not about whether
other behavior changes help or hurt.

On Wed, Jan 29, 2020 at 02:48:59AM -0500, tomas.kuchta.lists at gmail.com wrote:
> There seems to be more effective, ways to prevent infection than showing off
> with not sealed/fitting face mask without protective goggles.
> https://www.bbc.com/news/health-51205344

I realize that English is not your first language, but
the article was about preventative steps.  Indeed, it
verifies that the first line of defense is frequent
hand washing, not touching eyes (nothing in the article
about goggles or not, but glasses stop many splashes),
etc.  Implementable behaviors in private spaces, more
difficult in public. 

However, for those of us who did pay attention in 
kindergarten, and also carry sterilizing wipes in public
places (like aircraft, where I will be soon, or churches,
where I will be dragged with family in a week), the basics
are covered and optimization is next.  The "public space"
is filled with both the sloppiest and the weakest.  

My concern is protecting the weakest (like my 101-year-
old father in law) from those who claim slogans and
superstition are antiviral.  A mask is a "showing-off"
way to demonstrate that you have a clue.

However, painter's masks seal poorly.  Masks with an
exhale valve seal much better, all other things equal.
Masks are also a reminder to not touch your face.  
Lumping all masks together, and all behavior together,
is somewhere between silly and wicked.

Whether or not some people claim mask don't matter, my M.D.
wife does.  I rank her knowledge above anonymous broadcast
journalists (even if they type with a British accent). 

It is for her, and her patients, and those who can learn
to use a mask properly, that I hope to interest the 3-D
printing community in making valves for "people's masks".
In a world with a global supply chain, disruptions in
China affect availability everywhere (try finding N95 
masks in stores or online, post-panic).

At the other end of the spectrum are those who claim that
2019-nCoV fatalities will inexorably double twice per week
in the US until we are all dead.  That nonsense was in a
"free" right-wing investment letter, presumably to make
old folks panic and dump their stocks, depressing prices
so the sponsors of the newsletter can buy some bargains.

Week old stats from China show that half the deaths were
people over 80 with one or more pre-existing conditions,
and the youngest was a 46 year-old woman with a
pre-existing condition.   

I haven't seen updated fatality figures for three days, or
breakdowns to specifics.  However, the birth rate in China
(the lowest in 70 years) is still 14 million per year,
40,000 per day, so Chinese death rates must becom thousands
of times worse, and affect much younger people, for this
crisis to escalate to a nation-destroying catastrophe. 

Sadly, I don't think it will even "get bad enough" for the
leadership to forbid eating endangered species, which
triggered both this epidemic, SARS, and perhaps some of
the Ebola outbreaks in Africa.

In the US, we don't get to control those foreign behaviors.
In the US, we DO have the freedom to influence outcomes for
ourselves and those who depend on us.  The coronavirus
crisis, real or overblown, is a chance for those of us with
the right tools to assist those without.  I don't have a
3-D printer, but I have other skills to contribute (and
four different kinds of N95 mask, if examples are needed).

And since sterile wipes are also an important part of "total
protection" in planes and buses and other public spaces, I
will learn how to make some, and share that learning with
others.  That will be more of a TSA permission problem than
a manufacturing problem.


Keith Lofstrom          keithl at keithl.com

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