UBC students design affordable, see-through full-face COVID respirator

Tusk respirator

UBC Engineering students have designed a full-face respirator that they claim is transparent, breathable and comfortable to use.

The respirator protects against COVID-19 and other harmful particles, like wildfire smoke, and it is lightweight enough to wear all day, says the team.

“At just 270 grams and $65, it’s slimmer and cheaper than other full-face respirators in the market today,” says lead designer Faheem Saeed, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student who conceived the technology during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the team, the respirator is made of optical-grade polycarbonate and provides a complete seal around the face. It has a pair of KP100 filters, which filter out up to 99.97 per cent of airborne particles measuring 0.3 microns and above, and antifog coating.

Saeed says most full-face respirators on the market are bulky and hide much of the wearer’s face, which makes communication challenging — particularly for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Tusk

“No one has tried to design a lightweight full respirator for everyday use. People were designing big bubble helmets. We believe we have designed the world’s sleekest full-face protection,” he said.

Other team members include fellow mechanical engineering students Albert Yau and Steven McCulloch, who provided testing and 3D-printing support, and Wild Guevara, a third-year computer science student at the University of Calgary, who built the team’s website.

The students consulted UBC mechanical engineering professor Machiel Van der Loos and medical professionals at Vancouver General Hospital during the development process. They are currently preparing to test the respirator at a lab overseas before applying for authorizations from Health Canada, the Food and Drug Administration and the European Union.

While initially focused on consumers, the team hopes to attract health care professionals, as well. Saeed says the respirator has no metal parts, so it is potentially safe to use near MRI machines, and can be easily sanitized.

More information about the respirator is available on the team’s website.