In our company, which we present under the brand Rélyéf, we try to be creative.
Our goal is to help people develop their ceramic skills. We do our best to make their start easier, to provide suitable tools to them and make their work more pleasant.
We have been working on all of these issues intensively for many years.
Now an odd situation set in that is limiting us in many activities. And not only us but also everyone around us. Yes, I mean the situation with the virus, known as COVID-19.
We decided to limit our process of creating new stamps and tools for a while and give priority of making protective equipment.
We were not only driven by the idea of helping in times of crisis, but also by the benefit for ceramics. Now the respirator could help in the current crisis and later at the everyday work of ceramists. Just a great idea.
In addition, many similar things have been developed on the different webpages. So we chose this model https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4225667 and tried to find the best use of our 3D-printers fleet. We also enjoyed our creating freedom to „improve“ the model with a small change - logo Rélyéf.
Up to this point, everything looked absolutely amazing. Thanks to the fine tuning of our 3D-printers we were able to obtain the first products. They did not look bad at first sight.
But we want to say goodbye to every piece that leaves our production only when we are sure, it is absolutely ready for the deployment for which it was created. And this is the point where it started to collapse...
During the process of gaining information about air filtration, more and more problems are appearing.
It is usually so, when one makes things too quickly and under pressure.
Each new protective equipment must be certified by the relevant institution. But we do not have enough time and experience for such a long and difficult process.
We might offer our respirator at least to our families and friends to use it as we use the hand made sewed masks.
So we will not profit from this product during the crisis, but it could help nowadays.
But certification is not the only problem here. 3D printing plastic is not the most adaptable to people´s faces.
If you do not have ideal measures of your face, the mask simply does not fit and you breathe outside the filter as well.
Another defect in this solution is the porosity of the material. This will most likely be a big disinfection problem too. And vice versa in the capture of impurities. And not just dust. So the idea of using it in ceramics for glazing is also failing.
After realising all of these facts we thought we would just sweep the whole case off the table. But in the end, we decided to share our experience how we reached the deadlock. Either we protect someone from making a similar mistake, or bring others to think if such thing really works and protects, or creates a sense of false security, or if it could be even a threat.
We should keep in mind that simple home 3D printing technology may not be the universal solution to all problems (such as respiratory masks).
However, there are other solutions where the deployment of 3D printing makes sense:
We joined the production of protective shields.
We will return to the production of stamps later, we have enough in stock so far.