Protection Behind the Mask: PTC Supports MasksOn's Race for 1M "Clinician Protected Days"

Written By: Alexandra Puig
  • 4/27/2020
  • Read Time : 5 min

“The supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) remains tenuous,” New York State officials wrote in an April 11 memo addressing the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The healthcare response to COVID-19 has been defined by the rapidly dwindling supply of PPE for those on the front lines. In support of first responders, the private sector has committed to donating financial, material, and production resources to combat the shortage.

One such example is MasksOn, a nonprofit initiative formed by a large group of volunteers from healthcare, academia, and technology companies all over the United States – including medical professionals from hospitals in Washington, Massachusetts, and California and experts from PTC, Formlabs, Blue Origin, Google, Tulip, and more.

Together, the group set out to address the immediate need by shooting for the stars – creating enough masks to provide 1,000,000 protected clinician days throughout the month of April.

Uncommon Inspiration for an Unprecedented Situation

What would the end product be? How would they be able to create something that could replace the ever-critical PPE? Inspired by two doctors from Massachusetts’ Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the group would refit a traditional scuba mask with medical grade filters, and replicate with a 3D printer.

Using Onshape, PTC’s Software-as-a-Service computer-aided design technology, the prototype was manufactured with airtight, medical-grade dental resin in an injection mold, connecting a medical-grade filter to the mask. The lightweight piece of equipment also ensured medical professionals could move about their units with ease, conserving energy to treat the ongoing tsunami of COVID-19 patients. To reduce downtime between each prototype, the team has been leveraging the Onshape software for fast, and simple reviews, bringing them just a bit closer to the 1 million goal.


Caption: Volunteers assess and tweak the near-finished masks in PTC’s 121 Seaport Headquarters. Credit: Alex Pickering

‘How It’s Made’

PTC’s Corporate Experience Center would be unrecognizable for visitors today. The area has been converted to a full-service manufacturing and testing facility dedicated solely to developing PPE.

In partnership with clinicians at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Mass General, Lahey Clinics, New York-Presbyterian, and Tufts Medical Center, with additional input from academics at Columbia, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Rice, Tufts, University of California–Berkeley, University of California–San Francisco, University of Texas–Dallas, and Yale, hundreds of the masks are tested in the field each day to be used as a last resort, pending OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and U.S. FDA approvals.

Where Are We Now?

At a rate of 1,000 masks per day, the team is projected to get more than 50,000 into the field within the next 3-12 weeks. After raising over half of their $2.75 million goal, MasksOn is proudly on track to produce 1 million “clinician protected days” in April.

“We’re basically a startup where every day we are progressing by three months,” Onshape’s Bradley Sauln shared in a recent blog post detailing the efforts. “We’re not doctors. We’re not in hospitals. We can’t do as much as they are, but at least we can support them because they’re the ones on the frontlines.”

PTC and Onshape are proud to be a part of this effort. Thank you to MasksOn for organizing a mass “rise to the challenge” when the U.S. needed it most.

  • COVID-19
  • Onshape

About the Author

Alexandra Puig

Alexandra Puig is a corporate communications specialist based in PTC’s Boston headquarters. Prior to joining PTC, she practiced public relations at a leading law firm and life sciences organization. Alexandra earned her B.A. in Political Science from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.