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UArizona scientists designing protective masks

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TUCSON - The University of Arizona continues to step to the forefront as a research university doing what it can to help the Tucson community fight the coronavirus pandemic.

University doctors and engineers are working together to produce personal protective equipment for health care personnel at Banner- University Medical Center.

A 3D mask is currently being tested and UArizona hopes to begin producing the protective device for use by next week.

Just a week ago, the school’s medical arm put together over five thousand COVID-19 test kits.

UA anticipates it will be able to produce about 1,000 3D masks per week

UArizona Professor Douglas Loy said it was President Robert C. Robbins who approached David Hahn, the Dean of Engineering, to find out if his team could produce the necessary PPE that has been lacking in the fight against the virus.

The university’s production team is being led by Loy and Krishna Muralidharan of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Sairam Parthasarathy of the Department of Medicine and Armin Sorooshian of the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering.

Loy and Muralidharan are working on the design and printing of the masks.

Parthasarathy and Sorooshian, who studies aerosol particles in the atmosphere, will test how well the masks keep out harmful biological particles, to ensure they meet the standards of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The College of Engineering and the materials science engineering department provided $20,000 in funding to order 10 new 3D printers.

The masks will be produced utilizing a 3D code, which once approved can be used by any company around the world.

UArizona believes they’ll be able to cycle out about 1,000 masks per week.

Muralidharan says with Coronavirus test kits and PPE now in motion, the school will now begin turning its attention to producing another much-needed piece of equipment in the virus fight, mechanical ventilators.

Copyright 2020 News 4 Tucson. All rights reserved.

David Kelly

David Kelly is the weekend sports anchor at KVOA in Tucson. He is a 28-year veteran of the sports broadcast business.

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