MIT: "The iMASC is a clear rubber mask that covers the nose and mouth, with a nose bridge and two nylon elastic straps that go around the head. The fit was based on the 3M 1860 respirator, a particular style of N95 mask that’s commonly used by healthcare providers."
Called the iMASC, which stands for Injection Molded Autoclavable, Scalable, Conformable, this design could help solve shortage issues.
The new iMASC system can also be sterilized a few different ways without sacrificing its effectiveness, the researchers wrote in a paper published in the British Medical Journal Open. For example, researchers were able to use a steam sterilizer on the masks, put the masks in an oven, as well as soak them in both bleach and rubbing alcohol. (Treating used N95 masks with hydrogen peroxide disinfectants to neutralize any viruses requires special equipment and takes a few days. It also only allows the masks to be re-worn for one day at a time, up to 20 more times.)
The iMASC researchers “wanted to maximize the reusability of the system,” Giovanni Traverso, an MIT assistant professor of mechanical engineering and a gastroenterologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said in a press release.
The new mask could also be more environmentally-friendly — it uses less disposable material, which produces much less waste than tossing a whole mask, Adam Wentworth, a research engineer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a research affiliate at the Koch Institute, said in a press release.