Fight against COVID-19 - Mass Production of Face Masks with 3D Printing

Zortrax, using its 3D printing technology, has launched a functional assembly line capable of manufacturing 6 million and 240 thousand face masks per year. These masks are now being donated to hospitals, nursing homes and other units fighting the pandemic.

COVID-19 pandemic has claimed over 1.5 million lives so far. On the peak day of November, there have been over 640 thousand new cases confirmed. Health care services all over the world are working under an unbelievable strain. We're running out of hospital beds, lung ventilators or even basic face masks. That's why Zortrax, using its 3D printing technology, has launched a functional assembly line capable of manufacturing 6 million and 240 thousand face masks per year. These masks are now being donated to hospitals, nursing homes and other units fighting the pandemic.


Back in Spring, during the first wave of the pandemic, Zortrax employed its 3D printing farm to manufacture face shields. The company was using 150 3D printers. At this time in Poland, the number of new COVID-19 cases diagnosed daily amounted to a few hundred at most. Now, during the second wave that came in Fall, the pandemic has started to spread at an unprecedented pace. Based on requests coming from care takers and medical staff, we figured that our help was needed more than ever. But due to a much larger scale of the problem, we couldn't handle using 3D printers alone.
Zortrax engineers therefore came up with an idea to acquire simple, standard manufacturing machines designed for making face masks, which the wanted to connect into one assembly line. However,
to make this often incomplete equipment work, they used the 3D printers to fabricate all the missing components. With rapid prototyping technologies, the assembly line has been launched in under
a month and a half.
- 3D printing is a great crisis response technology. When the demand for personal protective equipment started exceeding the capacity of traditional factories back in Spring, 3D printers could instantly start producing face shields or respirators. Now, when this demand grew orders of magnitude higher, we could rapidly build an assembly line by acquiring machines that would be useless without the support of additive manufacturing technologies. Fabricating or ordering all the missing components would take several months. With rapid prototyping and reverse engineering, we could optimize, set up, and launch these machines in a very short time. - says RafaƂ Tomasiak, the CEO of Zortrax S.A.

The assembly line working at Zortrax consists of two modules. The first one is responsible for stacking three cloths into one, three-layer fabric the masks are made of. Also at this stage, the wires enable fitting the mask tightly. Finally, the fabric with the wire is cut into pieces that would become individual masks.
The second module receives the masks made by the first module and attaches ear loops by welding them to the fabric. Zortrax engineers could synchronize the machines so as to reach a production capacity at two masks per second. Overall, the assembly line has over a hundred key components that have been 3D printed on large-format M300 Plus 3D printers and incredibly precise Inkspire machines working in the UV LCD technology.
Zortrax also encourages the 3D printing community to get involved in the COVID-19 relief efforts. The company has shared the .stl files with designs of all the 3D printed components used in its assembly line producing face masks. These designs are not universally applicable, of course, but can be modified freely. This way, they can help in adapting various production machines to work in mass production of personal protective equipment.
The first batch of over 5 thousand face masks manufactured at Zortrax will be donated to the hospital in Olsztyn, which is a hometown of Zortrax in Poland. The medical staff working at the hospital will then distribute the masks further to other health care units and nursing homes in our community.

About Zortrax:
Zortrax is a Polish company providing comprehensive 3D printing solutions. It has built a strong position on the market of 3D desktop devices, supplementing its offering with print materials, Z-SUITE software and other products that improve the efficiency of the prototyping process. Zortrax devices are used by thousands of customers around the world in various industries, from architecture
to medicine, automotive, engineering, industrial design and fashion. NASA and the Bosch group have been among the satisfied users of Zortrax solution.

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