Use of 3D printed connectors to redesign full face snorkeling masks in the COVID-19 era: a preliminary technical case-study

Jacopo Profili*, Rafael Brunet, Émilie L. Dubois, Vincent Groenhuis, Lucas A. Hof

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in severe shortages of personal protection equipment and noninvasive ventilation devices. As traditional supply chains could not meet up with the demand, makeshift solutions were developed and locally manufactured by rapid prototyping networks. Among the different global initiatives, retrofitting of full-face snorkeling masks for NonInvasive-Ventilation (NIV) applications seems the most challenging. This article provides a systematic overview of rapid prototyped - 3D printed - designs that enable attachment of medical equipment to snorkeling masks, highlighting potential and challenges in additive manufacturing. The different NIV connector designs are compared on low-cost 3D fabrication time and costs, which allows a rapid assessment of developed connectors for health care workers in urgent need of retrofitting snorkeling masks for NIV purposes. Challenges and safety issues of the rapid prototyping approach for healthcare applications during the pandemic are discussed as well. When critical parameters such as the final product cost, geographical availability of the feedstock and the 3D printers and the medical efficiency of the rapid prototyped products are well considered before deploying decentralized 3D printing as manufacturing method, this rapid prototyping strategy contributed to reduce personal protective equipment and NIV shortages during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also concluded that it is crucial to carefully optimize material and printer parameter settings to realize best fitting and airtight connector-mask connections, which is heavily depending on the chosen feedstock and type of printer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of 3D Printed Medicine
Early online date26 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2021


  • 3D printed adapters
  • non-invasive ventilation systems
  • rapid prototyping
  • full-face snorkeling masks
  • fused deposition modelling
  • COVID-19 pandemic


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