Transformed snorkel masks to protect staff working with Covid-19 patients distributed on large scale to Belgian hospitals, thanks to two collectives

Transformed snorkel masks to protect staff working with Covid-19 patients distributed on large scale to Belgian hospitals, thanks to two collectives

Three weeks ago, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) developed a 3D-printed adaptor that transforms a standard snorkelling mask into protection for hospital staff caring for Covid-19 patients. At the same time, a collective in France was working on a similar system for the same Decathlon EasyBreath Subea mask, and is now producing the adaptor on a large scale. To meet the urgent need for more protection, the two groups have joined forces. The industrial collective and Ethias are sharing this solution on a large scale, free of charge, to interested Belgian hospitals.

Proposed distribution to all Belgian hospitals

Thanks to the combined efforts of these two collectives, the adaptors can be supplied to Belgian hospitals that need them in less than a week. Hospitals can request them via

The industrial collective will supply the adaptors for free. Ethias, which is supporting the initiative, will provide free masks.

3D printing, a quick solution

In Belgium, the project was launched by engineers from the BruBotics research group at VUB. The first 3D-printed adaptors were created in less than three days in the middle of March. That made it possible to demonstrate the value of the solution in responding to the most urgent needs in hospitals. UMC St Pieter’s hospital in Brussels, which specialises in infectious diseases, has validated the devices.

Industrialisation, a step towards large-scale implementation

At the same time in France, a collective of researchers, academics, makers, doctors and industry representatives was set up to further develop this smart 3D-printed emergency solution into a solution that can be produced on an industrial scale. In partnership with the collective, the company BIC designed and developed a mould for the industrial production of the adaptors in record time. The collective carried out user tests in hospitals and received temporary approval from the ANSM, France’s agency for medicines and health products, to share the product. Various actors from different sectors have joined forces to find a fast, efficient solution during this public health crisis. Belgium is the second country after France in which the adaptors have been distributed.

Use of the mask

The mask is currently only intended for professional use by hospital staff working in resuscitation. It is reusable, meaning protocols around disinfection must be respected, which can only be done by hospitals. Furthermore, given that the exhaled air is not filtered, the solution is only meant for staff caring for people who are (presumably) infected with coronavirus.

The solution

This is an emergency solution to address the shortage of protective materials as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. Where necessary, these reusable masks replace the regular personal protective equipment (face masks and visors).

Before use, the snorkel is replaced by the adaptor. This adaptor is then connected using an antiviral/antibacterial filter that is available to hospitals.

The complete system, comprising the EasyBreath mask, the adaptor and the filter, transforms a recreational mask that covers the eyes, nose and mouth into personal protective equipment that also filters the air breathed in. It protects staff working in resuscitation in hospitals against the transmission of micro-organisms, bodily fluids and floating particles during critical interventions with patients who are (presumably) infected with Covid-19.

The mask exists in various sizes to fit any face. The adaptor is suitable for all sizes of EasyBreath Decathlon masks.


Press contacts

Belgium via VUB press office: +32 484 590 550          




The Belgian consortium behind the initiative consists of:

Vrije Universiteit Brussel: initiator of the project and responsible for developing the first prototypes

Endo Tools Therapeutics: Expertise in medical tools

St-Vicentius hospital, Antwerp and UMC Sint Pieter hospital, Brussels: first user tests and clinical approval

Decathlon (Belgium): technical and logistical collaboration

BIC: production and donation of adaptors to hospitals

Ethias: financing of donation of masks to hospitals


This consortium has now joined forces with the industrial collective, consisting of:

Stanford University USA, Plankton Planet: research

CNRS, la Fondation Tara Océan: creation and coordination

CHRU Brest, Centre Hospitalier Saint-Malo: medical and biomedical

Atelier PontonZ, UBO Open Factory: FabLab

Evanov: regulation

Decathlon, BIC: industrial

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale Lausanne, Elliptika, FM Logistic: other members of the collective and partners

Collective website:

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