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Comberton pupil designs mask ready for 3D printing

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Sam Nazarene (34001738)
Sam Nazarene (34001738)

Sam Nazarene, a teenage pupil at Comberton Village College, has expanded his astonishing artwork and gamification skills to develop the creation of a clear-plastic face mask which protects against the coronavirus.

The 13-year old pupil already had a hugely promising portfolio – see below – before the pandemic began. Then, the lockdown kicked in.

“A week after lockdown my dad showed me the news where people didn’t have enough ventilators,” Sam explains. “And he asked me: ‘Can you do something?’ I said: ‘Not for ventilators, but I think I can do a mask.’

“The thing is you currently need one mask to protect your eyes and another to protect your mouth, so I tried to design one which does both. It took me more than 30 hours to design using Blender.”

Blender is a free and open source 3D creation software suite which supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline – modelling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, video editing and the 2D animation pipeline. Initially created for games designers, its use has expanded as gamification extends into health applications and devices.At the end of the process Sam had a clear plastic mask but he needed to be sure the design was viable before making it available to the business community in the city.

“It took me quite a few models before I came up with this design,” he says. “I’m still getting used to Blender.”

He was helped by staff at Comberton Village College. Assistant principal James Freeman, knowing that staff teacher Asnat Doza has 3D printing facilities at her home, was approached and she printed the yellow demo version, above – the finished product will be made of clear plastic which will protect both the eyes and the mouth.

“We are expecting to produce the mask from something like eco-friendly or biodegradable plastic or poly-carbonate material which is a bit flexible, to fit around the face,” notes Sam.

The demo doesn’t show the filtration mechanism, or the cord used to attach the mask to the head.

“On the side is an extruded panel which will contain the filters used in mainstream PPE masks,” Sam explains. “The respirator also acts as an air hole to breathe through.

“The mask covers your eyes and mouth making even the smallest droplet of saliva impossible to reach any parts of the face, while still giving the wearer a full perspective and clear view of the world. The respirators have three layers of filtration to catch minuscule droplets of saliva and are comfortable to wear and breathable.”

It’s an astonishing achievement, and the design was sent to the Nazarene family’s local MP, Anthony Browne, who wrote back saying he had forwarded it to health minister Matt Hancock.

Sam’s prodigious creative talents started flowing around the age of seven, when he began drawing logos.

“I’ve been doing logo designs since seven, then my interest in 3D modelling started three or four years ago. I don’t play computer games at all, mainly what I do is video editing for my drawings, then I did some aerial videos of where I live, I learned how to use Photoshop and how to do video editing.

“I did this project in my own time but everyone at Comberton has been very supportive. I’m happy to share the blueprint of the mask with any companies who can start production of my design.”

At 13, Sam has made a dramatic contribution to a national need, but of course like most teenagers he would prefer to be back in school.

“Since lockdown I’ve been missing my friends but am still doing lots of schoolwork because my GCSE courses start soon,” he says.

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