Quantitative Fit Tested N95 Respirator-Alternatives Generated With CT Imaging and 3D Printing: A Response to Potential Shortages During the COVID-19 Pandemic

David H. Ballard, Udayabhanu Jammalamadaka, Kathleen W. Meacham, Mark J. Hoegger, Broc A. Burke, Jason A. Morris, Alexander R. Scott, Zachary O'Connor, Connie Gan, Jesse Hu, Karthik Tappa, Richard L. Wahl, Pamela K. Woodard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Rationale and Objective: Three-dimensional (3D) printing allows innovative solutions for personal protective equipment, particularly in times of crisis. Our goal was to generate an N95-alternative 3D-printed respirator that passed Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-certified quantitative fit testing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Materials and Methods: 3D printed prototypes for N95 solutions were created based on the design of commercial N95 respirators. Computed tomography imaging was performed on an anthropomorphic head phantom wearing a commercially available N95 respirator and these facial contour data was used in mask prototyping. Prototypes were generated using rigid and flexible polymers. According to OSHA standards, prototypes underwent subsequent quantitative respirator fit testing on volunteers who passed fit tests on commercial N95 respirators. Results: A total of 10 prototypes were 3D printed using both rigid (n = 5 designs) and flexible materials (n = 5 designs), Prototypes generated with rigid printing materials (n = 5 designs) did not pass quantitative respirator fit testing. Three of the five prototypes with flexible materials failed quantitative fit testing. The final two prototypes designs passed OSHA-certified quantitative fit tests with an overall mean fit factor of 138 (passing is over 100). Conclusion: Through rapid prototyping, 3D printed N95 alternative masks were designed with topographical facial computed tomography data to create mask facial contour and passed OSHA-certified quantitative respiratory testing when flexible polymer was used. This mask design may provide an alternative to disposable N95 respirators in case of pandemic-related shortages. Furthermore, this approach may allow customization for those that would otherwise fail fit testing on standard commercial respirators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-165
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic radiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • 3D printed mask
  • 3D printing
  • 3D printing COVID-19
  • COVID-19
  • N95 respirator
  • personal protective equipment


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