Engineers from Colorado will design medical-grade, mass-producible masks for COVID-19 response

6 May, 2020

Colorado State University engineers are now poised to help fulfill projected demand for close to 50,000 medical masks per day for nurses, doctors and other health care providers. In support of their efforts, they’ve received a $25,000 grant from the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute under the COVID-19-Related Research Pilot program,, which just announced four statewide winners out of over 50 applicants.

The CSU team led by David Prawel, associate research professor in mechanical engineering, will spend the next three to four months using their expertise in 3D printing and prototyping to create, test and certify a medical-grade, personal protective mask that can be mass-produced.

The team will research existing mask designs and combine the best of what they can find or improve upon. They will choose a design that can be prototyped on a 3D printer, that passes NIOSH standards, and crucially, can be made with existing plastics manufacturing procedures.

Their end product will be a mask that meets or exceeds National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) federal standards for N95 respirators, which offer a very high level of protection for workers exposed to breathable aerosolized particles. Health care workers caring for COVID-19 patients need N95-certified masks to protect them from breathing shed viral particles. The CSU team’s goal is to satisfy growing demand for such masks, first for the state of Colorado, and beyond if needed.

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