The Story of Karis’ Bespoke Mask

REMAP is a voluntary organization based in the UK. Its mission is to find ways of helping people cope with disability when no off-the-shelf device or other remedy is available. One of their volunteers – Bill Fraser, a 77-year-old retired engineer who lives in the Highlands – has spent several years helping a remarkable young lady there called Karis. She has congenital muscular dystrophy and is totally dependent on the support provided by her carers. Despite all the difficulties she has to contend with, Fraser says:

“Karis is a bright and communicative young lady who maintains an impressively positive outlook on life. Recently she completed an honours degree in Creative Writing and Classical Studies at the Open University. Following this, she was honoured to be one of only 50 alumni to be especially invited to London to participate in celebrations to mark The Open University’s 50th Anniversary.”

Karis with David Attenborough at The Open University’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Dinner

For many years Karis has required a ventilator to do her breathing for her. This means she has to continuously wear a full-face respiratory mask. Unfortunately, the constant pressure of the mask against her face has caused her facial profile to gradually change. Fraser became involved at the point where a standard mask would no longer seal effectively against her face, and her breathing was suffering.

REMAP’s initial solution involved modifying the standard mask by fitting a secondary seal, so that Karis could breathe properly again. However, after several years during which the changes to her facial profile continued, REMAP’s initial solution became inadequate. Resolving the new problem would be more complex, as the shape of the rigid mask shell would now have to somehow be altered to better conform to her face. REMAP obtained 3D scanned images of both her face, and of the rigid shell of the standard mask, and set about trying to design a bespoke extension piece that
would bridge the gap between them.

The gap between standard mask shell and facial profile

Retaining the integrity of the standard mask was critical, as any failure of the mask to contain pressure could prove catastrophic. Precision would be required in the design of the extension to optimise its fit to the standard mask, its resilience, and ultimately its effectiveness. Whilst researching possible ways of finding a solution, Fraser found and started applying our 3D reverse engineering software, QUICKSURFACE , to his problem. He imported the scan data from Karis’ facial profile, and from the standard mask, into QUICKSURFACE , and then used its features to model the complex bridging piece that would be needed. Having struggled for some time to find an effective way of resolving this 3D modelling problem, QUICKSURFACE provided the break-through Fraser needed. He’d had no previous experience of 3D-modelling irregular shapes, and acknowledges that he’d found himself trying to scramble up a fairly steep learning curve. However, he wrote to us:

“I’m blown away by the power of QuickSurface, by the many user-friendly features it incorporates, and also by the quality and extent of the tutorials that you’ve prepared to describe how to use it.”

3D model of required mask extension

Fraser quickly discovered how to use QUICKSURFACE to construct the bounding 3-dimensional lines that defined the required shape of the extension. The Lofting Function in the software then allowed him to create 3-dimensional planes between these lines, which he then used to build an accurate model of one half of the required mask extension piece. Then, with the help of the Mirror Tool, he mirrored this half of the model about the plane of symmetry of the mask to complete the design. QUICKSURFACE thus enabled him to quickly and easily create a digital model of the required extension.

After printing the model in PLA, the resulting extension – of the exact shape and dimensions required – was securely bonded on to the standard mask shell.

Original mask shell with extension bonded in place

The complex silicon lip seal from the original mask was then re-bonded on to the edge of the extended mask shell, repositioned by the extension so that it would now make proper contact with Karis’ face. She can now breathe effectively again, the mask is more comfortable for her to wear, and – very importantly – the tension in the mask head-straps that had been causing the damage to her face has now been significantly reduced. QUICKSURFACE will continue to provide a practical way of making swift and accurate further adjustments to the model for the extension on Karis’ bespoke mask should these be needed in future. It will also provide Fraser with a practical tool that he can apply to the resolution of similar design problems in his ongoing work with REMAP.


For now – we are glad to hear that Karis is happy with her new bespoke mask, and learn that steps are being taken to secure for her a future supply of bespoke masks to this design. We’re sure that this inspirational young lady will continue to overcome the challenges she faces, with help from her amazing carers, and volunteers like Bill Fraser at REMAP.

Karis at home in her garden with her Mum and Dad

Comments
  • Quick Surface is one of the best stand alone reverse engineering software tools on the market. It’s an interactive disassembler system that is easy to learn. With some amazing tools for reverse engineering your 3D scans. This software supports a number of executable formats for various projects.

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