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Silicone Face Harnesses Make Standard Masks More Effective

The harness creates a tight-fitting seal that elevates the protection of normal masks to that of an N95.

A recent Medgadget article discussed the latest trend in face masks: a silicone harness. The concept was devised by a team of engineers at Rice University aiming to improve the ability of standard surgical masks to protect against airborne droplets. The tight-fitting harness goes over a normal mask to reduce leakage around the sides to elevate their protection level to that of a higher-spec N95 mask. The team developed the harness earlier in the pandemic to address N95 shortages.

To test the harnesses, the engineers 3D printed various mannequin heads to see if they could improve the fit on different shaped faces. They also employed volunteers to wear them, and monitored the hot air leaving the masks with the help of an infrared camera. The final design makes conventional masks fifteen times more effective, and can be reused after sanitizing.

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