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TateHindle joins coronavirus fight with 3D printed scuba mask convertor

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TateHindle has begun 3D-printing connector valves which can turn scuba masks into full-face respirators for NHS workers

The London practice, the latest architect to offer a creative solution for the frontline fight against coronavirus, has designed a valve that will fit a scuba mask to a standard medical viral filter.

The design draws on the existing ‘Charlotte valve’ connector developed in Italy to adapt snorkelling masks.

The personal protective equipment made by TateHindle was developed in consultation with two doctors including ear, nose and throat surgeon Max Whittaker. It is being used by surgical teams based at Homerton and Royal London hospitals.

TateHindle’s IT, BIM and CAD manager Ross Bateman said NHS procurement ‘wasn’t moving fast enough’ for the surgeons, who are working in a ‘high-risk environment’ performing tracheostomies on patients with Covid-19.

To date, the practice has sourced 40 scuba masks and produced 60 connector valves on its two 3D printers. It is in discussions with the RIBA about publicising the design more widely.

TateHindle provided the first 20 connectors for free. The remainder will be financed via a crowdfunding drive set up by Whittaker on the GoFundMe platform.

The page raised nearly £3,500 in its first four days, with donations now suspended while the new equipment is tested.

Whittaker said on GoFundMe that the surgical team and their families were ‘incredibly grateful’ to Bateman and TateHindle director Harish Ratna.

He said: ‘TateHindle designed the key component to link viral filters to masks. They donated not only their materials and time free of charge but went over and above buying extra masks for the wider team.

‘They worked over the Easter weekend through the night to get the initial prototypes completed in time. They are releasing the adaptor 3D file for anyone to download for free and use locally for similar purposes.’

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