Local scuba diving equipment manufacturer develops a new range of high-quality, re-usable face masks suitable for public, professional and patient use to combat COVID-19

Since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the world, the Internet has been flooded with advice on how to make homemade face masks. There has also been an almighty rush to manufacture the sanitiser dispensers and the actual sanitiser liquid. Many are doing it for commercial gain and to a lesser extent there are those that are doing it to feel part of the cause.

However, as people rush to their sewing machines to create their masks, it is important to remember that when it comes to homemade masks, some fabrics work better than others. One study found sweatshirts work better than t-shirts, while towels may work better than scarves.

3D printing firms and the wider 3D printing community have had orders for hundreds of thousands of PPE gear, such as face masks and face guards. All have contributed towards the slowdown of the virus.

The Sola Nautilus mask for the public

Masks are intended to protect people against the Coronavirus-laced droplets that are emitted when people cough or sneeze, and sometimes even when they scream or sing. While the evidence on the efficacy of homemade masks is inconclusive, and some fabrics can even absorb viral particles, many experts say masks may be better than no protection at all. As long as they are cleaned and sterilised between uses, masks could help to prevent asymptomatic people from spreading the disease, by catching their droplets of saliva.

But whether the material is cotton or polyester, studies show that nothing works as well as an N95 mask, which healthcare workers are using. Of course the healthcare workers must be prioritised to get the supply of these masks.

While many have taken the short-cut route to get their product to market and make their fortune, others have been more deliberate and have not taken the easy option. Face masks made of fabric play their part but there are many negatives to them. The development of a new range of high-quality, re-usable face masks suitable for public, professional and patient use as an alternative to the poor-fitting, disposable surgical masks or makeshift items such as scarves, buffs and homemade fabric filters, while also freeing up medical N95 masks for frontline medical staff, was taking place in Honeydew, Gauteng.

“Our client Endless Summer Technologies is primarily an OEM manufacturer of high-end scuba diving equipment including fins, buoyancy compensators (BCs) and of course masks. We have been working with them since 2009 manufacturing the moulds that are used to manufacture the products that they distribute worldwide on behalf of their client, a well-known brand name in the scuba diving and snorkelling world,” explained Grant Brackenridge of Wizard Tool & Die.

The Kafo CNC vertical machining center CV-14B, that was recently supplied by Spectrum Machine Tools Africa, was used to manufacture the moulds

“The most important consideration in mask selection is fit. This is over and above the invaluable benefits of peripheral vision of a mask that includes a broad, uninterrupted view when you are 10 metres under water and the ease of use when clearing the mask during purging at the same depth. No two faces are alike, so individual differences have to also be taken into account,” explained Brackenridge.

“This know-how and experience has been built up over many years while servicing a sport that demands the highest of safety precautions. Challenged with the global pandemic the design, development and manufacturing teams used their knowledge and abilities to assist in the development of the new range of masks.”

“The function of a mask is to maintain an air pocket in front of the eyes while the outside water pressure is pushing against this. There are three basic functions that a mask must meet to be safe for scuba diving. The lens or face plate must be quality tempered glass, there must be a means to equalise pressure both of the mask and ears, and finally the mask should have low volume (the amount of air inside the mask).”

The Sola Shield PRO that is mainly worn by the health care workers working in high-exposure environments

“Wizard Tool & Die have manufactured over 40 moulds for Endless Summer Technologies. This COVID-19 mask development entailed manufacturing six new moulds and we had to take into account all of the above. We manufactured all six of them in six weeks. No mean feat.”

“The masks have been manufactured for Sola Medical and been given the name of Sola Nautilus for the public, Sola Nautilus PRO VENT for ventilator use and Sola Shield PRO which are mainly worn by the health care workers working in high-exposure environments.”

“The company has also developed textile filters, a secondary process of filtration through the filter pad, which can be replaced on a daily basis.”

“The Sols masks are manufactured by sister company Wizard plastics. They are comfortable, durable, re-usable, easy to clean and disinfect (dishwasher safe) and come in four colour options – black, blue, turquoise and pink.”

“We at Wizard Tool & Die are able to offer the complete solution to our customers. We can assist with components and mould design, raw material selection, mould manufacturing, production of components and delivery to the client.”

For further details contact Wizard Tool & Die on TEL: 011 794 6615 or visit www.wizard-plastics.com or www.sola-medical.co.za