APSU working on respiratory face masks prototype

Posted at 12:31 PM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-08 13:31:59-04

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Geographic Information Systems Center at Austin Peay State University is working to create 3D printed respiratory face masks.

The center's staff and students are testing prototypes for the mask to give to medical personnel who are treating COVID-19 patients.

The university has also been producing face shields and delivering them to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

One of the students, Michael Hunter, designed and built the 3D-printed prototype for face shields that was later delivered to TEMA and sent to several colleges and universities in the state.

The first shipment of face shields from APSU was delivered to TEMA on March 25. As of April 6, APSU has sent 24 boxes containing 864 face shield frames and almost 9,000 face shields to the agency.

GIS Center Director Mike Wilson said developing a prototype for respiratory face masks has been more challenging than producing face shields.

"Unlike the shield, a mask has more medical requirements including fit/comfort and filtration ability," Wilson said. "A proper mask will provide a tight seal on the face and filter small particles (I believe 0.3 microns for viruses)."

GIS Center is looking for available materials to use as the filter in the masks.

"This is difficult due to the filtration needed, as well as the supply,” Wilson said. “We’re trying to come up with a mask that acts like an N95 (respirator) mask."


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What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.


The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.