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    NUWC Keyport Employees Develop Tactical Filtering Mask, Show Additive Manufacturing Expertise

    NUWC Keyport Employees Develop Tactical Filtering Mask, Show Additive Manufacturing Expertise

    Photo By Lonnie Collier | Patent designs for U.S. Patent Nos. D946743, D946744, D946745, D946746.... read more read more



    Story by Lonnie Collier 

    Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport

    KEYPORT, Wash., April 12, 2022/ Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport/- NUWC Division Keyport received patents for the invention of two filtered face masks and two filtered face mask respirators.

    The four patents were awarded for novel designs of reusable, tactical filtering face masks and respirators developed during the COVID-19 pandemic. US Forces Korea requested assistance in maintaining and increasing their supply of masks to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 due to industry supply chain shortages affecting Department of Defense mission readiness.

    Highlights of the developed masks/respirators include multiple/modular configurations designed to utilize low-cost, user-replaceable filter media. As a reusable, cleanable product, these innovative designs could serve future needs and be rapidly up-scaled by leveraging a digital manufacturing technical data package and ordered using the NATO Item Identification Number issued by the Defense Logistics Agency.

    Most half-face, reusable respirators have approved filter cartridges that must be procured, thus creating another significant supply/stocked item to track and store. These new tactical face mask/respirator designs allow the user to open the filter housing and insert fresh filter material. The goal was to mitigate supply chain risk for the warfighter because they have limited space to haul around extra filter “cartridges” versus the much smaller, pre-cut “filter media sheets.”

    The Office of Naval Research Global Science Advisor to USFK communicated the shortage to ONRG’s TechSolutions, resources were applied to find a technology solution, and NUWC Keyport was selected for development. An agile manufacturing effort to produce a high-quality, reusable filtering face mask in four sizes was completed with additional funding provided by Naval Accelerator programs. NUWC Keyport teamed up with multiple organizations throughout the Naval Research and Development Establishment and multiple Navy and Army personnel to test the design for comfort and fit. The design allows for tactical operations, such as shouldering a rifle.

    “The need for the mask gave Keyport the opportunity to leverage its expertise and use its specialized additive manufacturing equipment to create the masks,” said Eric Seeley, Director of Innovation at NUWC Division, Keyport. “We worked with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Chemical Biological Center to test the masks and work toward meeting the performance of an N95. Once initial testing was successful, Keyport worked with US Forces Korea along with others to supply the masks as Community Masks under the Emergency Use Authorization.”

    Concurrently-designed face seals and filter housings enabled these products to go through many manufacturing and testing iterations very quickly. NUWC Keyport collaborated with the Veteran’s Administration, Army Medical Research Command, Warfare Centers, Naval Research Lab, and numerous industry & academia partners to carry out performance/functional testing, material compatibility screening, and filtration media trials on various DoD mask variants.

    “This effort highlighted how the DoD can leverage an agile manufacturing approach to respond to a totally unplanned, complex manufacturing need – driven by strict performance and regulatory requirements – with scaled production as the end goal,” said Bryce Weber, NUWC Division, Keyport Manufacturing Technology Manager. “The masks were specifically designed, prototyped, and validated for additive manufacturing and injection molding production methods in mind. Taking on a demanding application involving personnel safety and health demonstrates how the DoD’s organic industrial base can react faster to deliver turnkey, quality-intensive solutions to the warfighter. Building this capability to support mission readiness is critical for future supply chain constrained environments.”

    Building upon this successful demonstration and filtration results, NUWC Keyport received CARES Act funding to submit an injection-moldable design variant to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for N95 certification, with testing planned in FY2022.

    Editor’s Note: Bryce Weber, Johannes Schonberg and Eric Seeley contributed to this article.

    About Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport
    NUWC Keyport provides advanced technical capabilities for test and evaluation, in-service engineering, maintenance and industrial base support, fleet material readiness, and obsolescence management for undersea warfare to expand America’s undersea dominance.



    Date Taken: 04.12.2022
    Date Posted: 04.12.2022 14:11
    Story ID: 418330
    Location: KEYPORT, WA, US 
    Hometown: KEYPORT, WA, US

    Web Views: 115
    Downloads: 1