Image by Isinnova

3D-printing engineers are getting crafty in the age of coronavirus.

First, a local Italian 3D printer business helped an overwhelmed hospital print replacement valves.

Now, the company called Isinnova is working on its next ingenious solution: a 3D printed adapter that could turn a snorkeling mask into a C-PAP mask for oxygen therapy — a crucial treatment for more severe COVID-19 cases.

The idea was first thought up by Gardone Valtrompia Hospital head physician Renato Favero, who got in touch with Isinnova, according to a blog post.

"Doctor Favero shared with us an idea to fix the possible shortage of hospital C-PAP masks for sub-intensive therapy, which is emerging as a concrete problem linked to the spread of Covid-19," reads the post. "It’s the construction of an emergency ventilator mask, realized by adjusting a snorkeling mask already available on the market."

"Easybreath" snorkeling maker Decathlon "was immediately willing to cooperate," according to Isinnova. A 3D printed prototype was "proven to be correctly working" with hospital staff "enthusiastic about the idea."

As opposed to the snorkeling mask you might be used to, these particular masks cover the entire front of the face, to give swimmers an unobstructed view of the underwater world around them. The bottom half of the device channels up into a narrowed "snorkel" that stays above the water surface.

Despite the early successes, Isinnova isn't going into production just yet. "Neither the mask nor the link are certified and their use is subject to a situation of mandatory need," the 3D printing business pointed out. Patients still need to sign a declaration to have the uncertified device used in their care.