Think3D, one of India’s largest 3D printing service providers with other rapid manufacturing capabilities, recently designed, developed, and delivered high-quality respiratory face masks for the Eastern Naval Command of the Indian Navy.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic masks have become a norm but still, the quality of masks remains an issue. A lot of masks available in the market are not tested and qualified for professional frontline usage.
The Eastern Naval Command of the Indian Navy also faced a similar problem of face masks and so they approached think3D with a requirement of a reusable mask that can be used for a longer duration with a possibility of intermittently changing filters.
This problem statement for the think3D was enough to get started and the entire team got to work from the ideation stage right up to the delivery. The development not only showcases the superior capabilities of the 3D printing technology but also highlights the core competencies that think3D exemplifies across the entire manufacturing value chain.
We chart out the path followed by think3D in developing the respiratory masks while ensuring the utmost safety precautions.
On the brief given by the officers from the Eastern Indian Naval Command, the think3D team brainstormed and decided the structure of the mask to be manufactured, the design, the approach, and the methodology to be followed.
2. 3D Scanning
The first step towards the manufacturing of the respiratory face masks was to scan the most common face profiles to understand the structure, the common stress areas on a face, and typical dimensions. This helped the team to identify some common issues often neglected during the designing phase.
3. 3D Designing
Based on the ideation and scanning results the team proceeded towards one of the most important stages of product development – Conversion of the idea into a CAD model. The skilled designing team at think3D developed multiple CAD models of the mask so all of them can be experimented and iterated to finalise the most suitable one. They also conducted an analytical evaluation of the stress points while wearing a mask.
4. 3D Printing
The designs were then used for 3D printing the mask prototypes. After careful functional testing of the masks, the team finalized the most comfortable design that can be injection moulded for mass production.
5. Mould Making
The next obvious stage of production was mould making. The mould designing was done at think3D and accordingly, the mould was machined at a government tool room in Bhubaneswar.
They machined 2 moulds, one for the grid and other for the body of the mask (the part that covers the nose and mouth).
6. Material Selection
According to the product experts at think3D, Polypropylene (PP) was selected as the material of choice for the respirators, as it is considered as the safest material among all plastics.
To gain the economies of scale and to manufacture large quantities faster, as decided during the ideation phase, the masks were injection moulded using Polypropylene (PP) material.
8. Assembly, Packaging, and Delivery
Lastly, in the assembly and packaging stage, additional components like polyethylene elastic strap, foam beading across the profile of the covering part, non-woven filter material wrapping around the grid are attached to the mask and assembled to make the finished part.
Finally, the finished masks were sterilized and the required quantity was delivered to Eastern Naval command within the stipulated period. As per the Navy team, they were pleased with the product and the service provided by the team at think3D.
The above case study shows how 3D printing helped think3D to rapidly iterate multiple designs before it could go into mass production of the respiratory masks. This case study shows that the potential of 3D printing is not just for manufacturing final end-use parts but it can support the traditional manufacturing processes for improving production efficiencies and also serve the customer better.
About think3D: think3D is an end-to-end rapid prototyping service provider with 3D Scanning, 3D Designing, 3D Printing, Vacuum Casting, CNC Machining, Laser Cutting, Injection moulding facilities all done under a single roof.
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