A feasible route for the design and manufacture of customised respiratory protection through digital facial capture

Luke Carter, Caroline Reed, Alexander Morrell, Anthony K. H. Fong, Rayyan Chowdhury, Ewan Miller, Federico Alberini, Balvinder Khambay, Shivana Anand, Liam Grover, Trevor Coward, Owen Addison, Sophie Cox

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The World Health Organisation has called for a 40% increase in personal protective equipment manufacturing worldwide, recognising that frontline workers need effective protection during the COVID-19 pandemic. Current devices suffer from high fit-failure rates leaving significant proportions of users exposed to risk of viral infection. Driven by non-contact, portable, and widely available 3D scanning technologies, a workflow is presented whereby a user’s face is rapidly categorised using relevant facial parameters. Device design is then directed down either a semi-customised or fully-customised route. Semi-customised designs use the extracted eye-to-chin distance to categorise users in to pre-determined size brackets established via a cohort of 200 participants encompassing 87.5% of the cohort. The user’s nasal profile is approximated to a Gaussian curve to further refine the selection in to one of three subsets. Flexible silicone provides the facial interface accommodating minor mismatches between true nasal profile and the approximation, maintaining a good seal in this challenging region. Critically, users with outlying facial parameters are flagged for the fully-customised route whereby the silicone interface is mapped to 3D scan data. These two approaches allow for large scale manufacture of a limited number of design variations, currently nine through the semi-customised approach, whilst ensuring effective device fit. Furthermore, labour-intensive fully-customised designs are targeted as those users who will most greatly benefit. By encompassing both approaches, the presented workflow balances manufacturing scale-up feasibility with the diverse range of users to provide well-fitting devices as widely as possible. Novel flow visualisation on a model face is presented alongside qualitative fit-testing of prototype devices to support the workflow methodology.
Original languageEnglish
Article number21449
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2021


  • COVID - 19
  • Healthcare
  • Occupational Health
  • biomedical engineering


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