A biomedical engineer and entrepreneur has been designing new medical devices at his Birmingham business for a few years, but now he’s developed something that might be key to thwarting the COVID-19 virus.
Innovation Depot in downtown Birmingham is an incubator for new businesses and new ideas.
One of those businesses is Satterfield Technologies. Forrest Satterfield is the CEO, and he started his business making knee and wrist braces, along with other medical devices.
Satterfield said he’s has plenty of success designing and building a lightweight knee brace, but when he learned of the medical mask shortage thanks to COVID-19, he went straight to the doctors at UAB Hospital.
“As we talked to them and worked through different prototypes it became, ‘OK, it needs to be reusable,’ ‘OK, it needs to be durable,’ ‘OK we need to have the ability to use different filters,’ ” Satterfield said. So he designed exactly what the medical folks wanted and put his 3D laser printer to work. It takes about two hours for a printer to make one mask, but they can be designed in multiple colors and different sizes. Each mask has a slot for an N-95 filer that can be replaced. “We’re sending a lot of masks up to New York, they’re finding out about us and ordering masks from us,” Satterfield said. “There’s still a global shortage and it doesn’t seem like that’s going to let up anytime soon.” The masks cost $25 and can be ordered from their website, Satterfield said.
If demand continues, Satterfield said he’ll need to buy more 3D printers so he can fulfill orders.
UAB Emergency Room Physician Dr. Jennifer Hess said Satterfield’s masks could prove popular.
“We’ve had our own N-95 masks that we take care of that the hospital wouldn’t have to worry about cleaning and that’s super durable,” Hess said. “It’s more expensive than the individual N-95’s but right now those last a week or two and this is something that could last a year or two.”