OBEX Health

Birmingham engineer making custom-fit N-95 face masks by hand

August 14, 2020

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - OBEX is housed at the Innovation Lab, where biomedical engineer Forrest Satterfield works 14-hour days making masks.

He and partner Dr. Kanti Sunkavalli began the effort in March because of the PPE shortage.

“Our priorities as a society, it seems like we’ve strayed so far away from the very tools we need to address this,” Satterfield said. Satterfield, 25, is a UAB graduate.

He is deeply concerned about how much PPE costs, limiting OBEX's masks to $30 to $50.

“Everything we create has to be affordable,” he says of his vision for OBEX.

Satterfield creates each custom mask from a scan taken digitally. The digital data will make sure the mask a customer receives adheres to their face completely. The app Bellus3D can do the same thing with iPhone X models or above.

“All that app is doing is creating a 3D map of the face and sending it to us to 3D model,” he explained.

Then the labwork begins, custom-molding silicone, typically done just by Satterfield himself.

The customer can pick colors and designs, he's working in a UAB design today for a professor.

“I am happy to be able to help people,” Satterfield said.

But he says if he had a choice, he wishes there was no need for masks at all. And it certainly isn’t the product he dreamed people would need most.

“There’s no easy way out of this. We missed that window,” he said.