Additive Manufacturing Helps Soldiers Breathe Easy with New Gas Mask Design

The new General Service Respirator was developed using AM. Courtesy of Design Reality.

The sheer number of stories floating around these days with the words “3D printing” and “gun” in the title is pretty astonishing. You’d think all additive manufacturing (AM) systems did was spit out firearms. Yes, Rapid Ready has done some stories on that topic, but I’m happier by far to cover stories in which AM helps save lives.

Even when it comes to national defense, AM has more to offer than figuring out better ways to blow stuff up. UK firm Design Reality has recently put 3D printing to use to design a better General Service Respirator – more commonly known as a gas mask – for the British military.

Design Reality's Respirator

The design team used an Objet260 Connex to develop the respirator, taking advantage of the system’s multi-material capabilities to, according to Stratasys, “accurately prototype every single aspect of the mask, from the rubber seals to the rigid clips and fasteners to the transparent visor.” The ability to put together nearly functional prototypes without requiring manual construction helped speed up the design process to get the new respirators in the field.

Beyond protecting British troops from chemical weapons, the new respirators are meant to defend against biological agents and, potentially, nuclear particles. The respirators were also designed to allow for easy fluids intake, weight, and comfort, without significantly impacting communication.

“This respirator is no mere gas mask,” said Lord Bach, Defense Procurement Minister. “It will give our troops unparalleled levels of protection in the field.”

Below you’ll find a video about the new respirators.

Sources: Stratasys, Design Reality

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About the Author

John Newman

John Newman is a Digital Engineering contributor who focuses on 3D printing. Contact him via [email protected] and read his posts on Rapid Ready Technology.

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