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Metamason: Revolutionizing CPAP Masks With 3D Scanning and 3D Printing 59

First time accepted submitter Leslie Oliver Karpas writes As millions of Americans with Obstructive Sleep Apnea struggle to get a good night's sleep, one company has harnessed 3D technology to revolutionize CPAP therapy. As reported today, "Metamason is working on custom CPAP masks for sleep apnea patients via 3D scanning, smart geometry, and 3D printing." "We're at the crossroads of 3D technology and personalized medicine," says Metamason's founder and CEO. "There are many medical products that would be infinitely more comfortable and effective with a customized fit. CPAP therapy is the perfect example—it's a very effective treatment with a 50% quit rate, because mass-produced masks are uncomfortable and don't fit properly." CPAP is a respiratory device worn during sleep to treat OSA, which affects 1 in 4 men and 1 in 9 women in the US alone. Metamason's "ScanFitPrint" process for creating their custom Respere masks translates a 3D scan of the patient's face into a 3D printed custom mask that is a perfect individual fit. To print the masks in soft, biocompatible silicone, Metamason invented a proprietary 3D printing process called Investment Molding, which creates wholly integrated products that were previously considered "unmoldable."
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Metamason: Revolutionizing CPAP Masks With 3D Scanning and 3D Printing

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  • by wonderboss ( 952111 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @12:49AM (#47528639)

    Or buy stock in the company?

    • It does read rather like a commercial.

    • by meander ( 178059 )

      A friend, who is a sleep apnoea specialist, said the most effective treatment was to lose 5-10kg of weight. That takes some weight of the lower jaw, so it doesn't hang so low when sleeping -> less loud noises/shitty partners/shorter lifespan.

      I used to snore. I lost 5kg in weight, drank a bit less alcohol, and my snoring disappeared, except when really tired.

      I was part of the biggest demographic of snorers. Yes, there are those that need better masks, but really, most are too fat or drink too much.

      Yes, I

      • I'm a fat bastard. I have sleep apnea. Maybe it would be fixed if I slimmed down (further). I'm working on it.

        My boss has sleep apnea. He's 5'10" and 150 pounds. How slim do you want him to get?

        While it's true that most sleep apnea patients are obese and the disease can be caused or made worse by obesity, a significant minority of the sufferers are thin.
    • by dotgpb ( 161780 )

      I'd definitely like to try one.

      Since it is 3D printed, hopefully they will also allow custom designs. I'd like mine to look like the breath mask portion of Darth Vader's helmet.

    • We are in the currently in the middle of a round, if you're interested in investing please connect to me through our website, linkedin or angel list... And thank you so much for your interest.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @01:17AM (#47528753) Journal
    This seems like a sensible approach, I just hope that it isn't accompanied by a raft of broad and dubious patents that purport to cover pretty much any 'printing something to fit someone' application. That would both serve as ammunition against a broad range of printing applications and be unjustified given the things that have already been 3d printed for medical applications(usually on a small scale). If they have something more specific, covering programmatically generating customized deformable shapes for best fit, or some elegant manufacturing twist, that may well be all good; but it would be unfortunate to see something overbroad.
    • There is prior art. My company has been scanning ears and printing hearing instrument shells for at least ten years.
      • by S.O.B. ( 136083 )

        Just like adding "on the internet" to a patent description seems to negate prior art I'm sure "by scanning a person's face" rather than "by scanning a person's ear" will make it sufficiently "unique".

  • The overall design is... Nice. A couple clever bits. But custom printing and all that? Nonsense. They're showing the worst of the CPAP masks. I tried them too, they suck. Then you inevitably complain, and the company selling you supplies give you Nasal Pillows (image for the confused: []). Works great, comes in 3 sizes. Bam, done.

    • nasal pillows do not work for many people.

    • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

      I don't agree that nasal pillows are the solution to all CPAP interface issues. I tried them and preferred a nasal mask to the pillows for overall fit and comfort.

      I do agree that custom 3D printing is nonsense to the problem. It would be much like people complaining that one pair of shoes were uncomfortable, and just deciding that 3D printing everyone's shoes to their exact foot is the answer. Or maybe they should just have tried on a different size, width, or style to find a better fit.

    • When being fitted for mine, they had all the varieties lined up with pillows at then end. I *knew* before I ever got there that the pillows were the only solution for me. How could anything fit better than the one with the minimal amount of contact? I love my CPAP because I went 4 decades before being diagnosed and then they found I had over 50 events per hour. Several years later and I swear my health is still improving because this serious problem was finally discovered. I do believe the pillows coul
      • I am curious why pillows won't work for some though.

        For me, it's the same reason a nasal mask doesn't work: Air comes out my mouth. I looked this up on the internet, and apparently people either let their tongue touch the top of their mouth, or use some chin strap thing to keep their mouth shut. In any event, the impression I get is that it simply isn't a serious issue for other people. I'm not talking about a little bit of leakage. As soon as I fall asleep and stop consciously keeping the air from escaping my mouth, it all escapes from my mouth. ...but

  • U.S. Medical Device Industry In Critical Condition []

    The United States has been the global leader in medical devices, one of the few major industries that both boasts a net trade surplus and is a job-creator. The sector employs 400,000 Americans directly and is indirectly responsible for almost 2 million more that supply and support the highly-skilled workforce. Most important, its products are essential elements of modern medical care, including everything from CT scanners and pacemakers to blood pressure cuffs and robots used by surgeons.

    But all of that is in jeopardy. The medical device industry is being ravaged by unwise public policy, including a devastating 2.3% excise tax took effect on Jan 1 as part of ObamaCare. This tax, which has already required the payment of more than $1 billion by device manufacturers, is especially pernicious because it is assessed on gross sales, not profits. To put this in perspective, imagine that you’re a manufacturer of medical devices and had a profit of $100,000 on sales of $1 million after all your costs and expenses—everything from materials and labor to research. The excise tax would be $23,000, wiping out almost a quarter of your profits. .....

    The nation’s medical device industry is vulnerable. It is not comprised of behemoths: 80% of its companies have 50 or fewer employees, the very businesses we are relying on to turn the U.S. economy around. The new excise tax comes on top of increased stringency and delays at both the FDA and the U.S. Patent Office, and at the same time that many device firms are shutting down or moving abroad to take advantage of the more favorable tax and regulatory climate in Europe. The tax is forcing companies to lay off employees, cut back on research and development, and reduce capital investment.

    The Times They Are A Changing []

    One sector that is seeing a rapid investment drop is healthcare and devices. That has hurt the North Carolina VC industry harder than it hurt Boston. It’s also subject to some longer term trends. Obamacare has a medical device tax buried in it-and it has caused money to pull back from taking risk in healthcare while everything gets sorted out. The FDA is a horrible bureaucratic organization to deal with, and they have made it hard to innovate

    • 'imagine that you’re a manufacturer of medical devices and had a profit of $100,000 on sales of $1 million after all your costs and expenses'

      ROTFL, wow, that was a good one! Do you tell that to your mates over a few drinks after golf to get a good laugh?
      A Medical devices manufacturer with a 10% profit margin? I think you missed a few zeros on that number..

      Oh, and really? 'taking risks in health care'? You should take up standup! Really! You will have them rolling in the isles!

  • Invented? Really? (Score:5, Informative)

    by thesupraman ( 179040 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @02:24AM (#47528991)

    ' Metamason invented a proprietary 3D printing process called Investment Molding'

    I'm sorry, but I dont think so, its only of the oldest casting processes there is:

    I am going to assume they think they invented it by either 3d printing either the original material, or the mould directly.
    And then I assume they call it moulding instead of casting as they use silicone not metal (of course..).

    This is a VERY common process these days - what exactly have they 'invented' here? sounds to me like a business process
    of making the moulds/masks to fit each client - revolutionary!

    • Supra, Yes, investment casting has been around for thousands of years. But the difference between using metal and silicone is far more significant than your casual dismissal would imply. In the investment casting process, the heat of the molten metal cause the 'burn out' of the wax part... And that wax part is a positive. We're 3D printing wax tooling, and printing the negative. Our tooling is printed as a single part, very different than normal silicone molds with multiple parts and bucks, which yield
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have the most severe sleep apnea and am one of the 50% quit rate. Last year I got myself the AVEO TSD and it's been amazing. (No, I don't work in advertising for the company, I'm just a normal person who understands how dibilitating sleep apnea is and want to tell as many people as possible about something that truly works.) This 3-D printed mask may help a lot of people, but I think using the technology to print customized tongue suppression devices would serve us better.

    • There are multiple reasons why people continue to use these machines. The CPAP is a great tool and the one recommended against severe sleep apnea, the product has a reputation and is heavily promoted. Yet again, people lack education, they are usually not told by their MD that for simple snoring and mild to moderate sleep apnea (the common one, the obstructive), the first medical recommandation should be a custom made dental mandibular advancement device or dental appliance such as https://www.pantheradent []
  • it's a very effective treatment with a 50% quit rate

    ...or, it's a 50% effective treatment, and the 50% who it doesn't help just aren't willing to continue to use it for months like their doctor would like them to, despite their doctor's claim that "it's a highly effective treatment, it'll work if you just stick with it long enough." If you believe that, you should know that sending me $20 a month is a highly effective way to become rich. Those who fail to become rich simply fail because they don't stick with the plan.

    ...and if you're thinking "those docto

  • My late wife could have used something like that for her BIPAP.

  • I'm sure there are serious cases of sleep apnea but it seems to be over-diagnosed lately. Mild cases used to be called snoring but now doctors and the highly profitable sleep clinics (some owned by doctors, others by hospitals) seem to be identifying snoring as moderate apnea and are recommending CPAP masks for it. Perhaps it would be better to try other apnea reduction methods first. I've read that back sleepers should try side sleeping for better nighttime breathing. And there are also pillows that lift t

    • I'm sure there are serious cases of sleep apnea but it seems to be over-diagnosed lately.

      Can you tell me who is over-diagnosing it? I've seen two sleep specialists, and had three sleep studies between them, but can't get a diagnosis. At this point I'd be quite happy with a quack who has only made the diagnosis because he's an idiot since at least that would open up some treatment options.

      I know I have it because it isn't that hard to diagnose. Just strap a mask to your face with a nice one centimeter hole for breathing and a pressure sensor to detect the minor changes in pressure under the m

      • by bjs555 ( 889176 )

        Sorry to hear of your problem but congratulations on the convincing diagnosis using equipment you built yourself. Perhaps you could try some of the non-CPAP machine apnea reduction methods like the dental appliance (I don't think an inexpensive off-the-shelf model could do much damage short term) and, using the same diagnosis equipment, see if you wake up less frequently.

        • Unfortunately I think the problem is entirely inside my nose. I don't know what's going on in there, but it's incredibly prone to being congested, especially when I'm lying down. It isn't allergies, as antihistamines (even those prescription nasal sprays) and decongestants have no effect, and it doesn't seem to be caused by anything, it's just always present. The only relief I've found is the breathe right nasal strips and a saline nasal spray, which are only a half-working solutions, but anymore I can b

          • by bjs555 ( 889176 )

            You're probably correct in your diagnosis of a congestion problem in your nose or throat. No one knows you better than yourself. Maybe you have a deviated septum or larger than normal tonsils or uvula. There might be a surgical solution. If you can you breathe better through your mouth maybe you could try pinching your nose closed at night with something like the clips swimmers use and see if that changes things.

            Speaking of finding true causes, let me tell you about a somewhat humorous diagnostic problem th

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak