Introduction: Hack Your Facemask
Hack your facemask is a nosebridge and buckled strap to modify any reusable facemask for added comfort and usability. It is easy, fast and cheap to make. The nosebridge is made from foam and a metal fastener, the buckle can be 3D printed or bought and is stapled onto the facemask by its strap.
One of the first things I noticed when wearing a facemask in public transport is how uncomfortable they get: they chafe behind the ears and fit poorly around the nose, which can make you feel as if you do not get enough air. They also do not make a great seal in the area between nose and eyes, even when outfitted with a bendable metal strip.
This project aims to improve comfort, usability, and safety of everyday, reusable facemasks. By improving the experience of wearing a facemask, compliance and adoption of facemasks will improve and we will all be safer for it.
You will need the following materials and tools: a metal fastener, a sheet of 1cm polyether foam, cyanoacrylate glue, a cilindrical object (e.g. wine bottle), sheet metal cutter, foam cutter, stencil for foam cutting, and a reuable facemask. Also, two 8mm wide and 14 cm long straps, a stapler, and a buckle that accomodates 8 mm wide straps.
Step 1: Cut the Foam
If you do not have a DIY hot-wire foam cutter, they are easy to make, following for instance the instructions here: https://www.instructables.com/id/5-DIY-Hot-Wire-Styrofoam-Cutter/. The stencils (the 'facemask-foamholder' files) can be 3D printed (stl file) or lasercut (svg file). Clasp a piece of foam between the stencils, activate to the foam cutter (in this example by clicking the 12 volt battery onto the cutter), and follow the outline of the stencil with the hot thread. When you have cut the semi-circular part, flip the stencils over to create the 'doube fish' shape of the foam bridge.
Step 2: Glue Foam Shape, Fastener, and Facemask Into Facemask With Nosebridge
Fasteners come in two parts, you only need the longer part. Bend the longer part over the wine bottle in a semicircular shape. Glue the foam part onto the fastener and clip the metal ends that extend on either side beyond the foam. If your facemask comes with a metal strip for the nose, remove it. Now glue the nosebridge you just made in place. Place it as high on the mask as possible.
Step 3: Add Straps and a Buckle to Your Facemask
Insert the straps into the buckles. I 3D printed the buckle from this model: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3415522 (scaled down to 50%), but buckles are cheap and easy to find. Staple the other ends of the straps to elastic bands that fit behind your ears. Halfway the elastic bands is good. Nine cm of elastic band on either side of the strap is a good length. Succes achieved, now you have a comfortable and safe re-usable facemask!
Step 4: A Note on Cleaning
I use a full bucket of hot tap water and dishwashing soap to immerse the facemasks after use and let them soak for about thirty minutes. Hot tap water in the Netherlands has a legal minimum temperature of 55 degrees Celsius, but is usually 60C or hotter. 15 minutes at 60C kills the virus, even without soap. Of course, we know this from studies in a lab environment and our kitchens are very different places. My guess however would be that kitchens are less hospitable to these viruses, what with a very active competetive microbiome and multiple killing methods included (high temperature AND soap rather than each independently).