NOT-FOR-PROFIT ORGANISATION LAUNCHES INITIATIVE OFFERING €10,000 FOR DESIGN OF REUSABLE PROTECTIVE FACEMASKS

Not-for-profit organisation Stop the Drop is opening an international, week-long competition, offering €10,000 for designers, engineers and creatives to design facemasks for everyday use, to help slow the spread of Covid-19 and ease the pressure on the NHS frontline.

This comes as the demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) increases, and it has been reported that some PPE could be reused by NHS staff as a “last resort”, as revealed by a leaked Public Health England (PHE) document.

Stop the Drop is calling for designers to create a mask that is easy to make and can be developed by any organisation with a 3D printer or an injection molding machine, such as universities, engineering companies, graphic design organisations and architects, using little material, at pace and at scale.

Ingo Aicher, managing director of a medical systems integration company Jones AV, who launched the initiative, wanted to address the issue and design a solution to the challenge of existing facemasks which are expensive to produce and have long lead times.

To combat this, Ingo created a prototype mask based on one of the most widely available filtration methods: the coffee filter. Now, he is asking people all over the world to enter this competition, offering €10,000 of his own money, to find a solution for a face mask that will help to reduce the droplets emitted when breathing out, which is the primary way the coronavirus is spread.

Ingo Aicher, founder of Stop the Drop, said:

“We want to address the worldwide shortage of facemasks and by launching this initiative, we’re hoping to initiate the community development of new locally mass-producible alternative face masks for everyday use, so medical PPE can reach the frontline workers, who need it most.

“Coronavirus is having such a significant impact and we know that by bringing people together to work on this project, we can help make a real difference. 

“We want to harness the incredible creative power of the open source. We are looking for people to improve on our own design with their engineering, creative and making skills, or produce something new and ground-breaking, that has the potential to help everyone in these challenging times.

“We are not selling face masks, but we aim to find solutions to locally produce PPE where it is needed. Over the course of the next few days as the design competition continues, we will be providing a matchmaking service for people with manufacturing capacity and those looking for PPE.”

Prof. Dr. Paul Tierney, of Trinity College Dublin School of Medicine, commented:

“This is an incredible initiative to help solve an issue that is facing both the public and our medical health professionals. Currently, there is little awareness about what a mass-produced face mask for members of the public needs to be. Unlike our NHS frontline staff, the public need only a barrier to exhaled breath to prevent aerosol droplets from spreading the four metres that recent research has identified.

“it’s fantastic that Stop the Drop has been launched to bring together the combined talents of people all over the world to contribute to slowing down the spread of Covid-19.”

The competition will be judged by a panel of medical industry and healthcare professionals and criteria states that the masks should be easy to assemble, environmentally friendly, easy to distribute, stable and reusable. Entries close on 26/04/2020.

To find out more and to submit your entry, visit: https://stopthedrop.today