Utilization of 3D-printing to Generate Custom Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Masks

Student Researcher:
Alexander Perry

Supervisor / Principle Investigator:
Dr. Christopher Hergott
Dr. Pina Colarusso

Additional Authors:
Joel B Glover
Kelvin Duong
Christopher A Hergott
Alex Chee
Andrew R Martin
Joanna E MacLean
Pina Colarusso

MD Class of 2021


Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder where the obstruction of the upper airways, via obstructive or central nervous system causes, leads to an interruption of airflow and a disturbance of sleep quality. These disturbances have been associated with increased daytime somnolence, impaired neurocognitive ability, and in children, untreated sleep apnea can lead to permanent cognitive deficits. With the emergence of rapid prototyping technologies, such as three dimensional (3D)-printing, the ability to customize tools/devices for individual patients has become more prevalent in medical care. Here we report a low cost and accessible method for creating customized continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks for sleep apnea.

The workflow that we have created is intended to produce customized masks for both pediatric and adult populations with craniofacial malformations. These populations are poorly served by commercial off-the-shelf products. In addition, customized masks have the potential to increase adherence for the average CPAP user. Using facial scanning, CAD (computer-aided design) software, and 3D-printing, we have developed a workflow to generate silicone CPAP masks that function with established commercial headgear. Facial scanning is conducted using photogrammetry to generate a point cloud of the patient’s facial features. These features are processed in CAD software where the custom mask is designed. Using this design, an injection mold is generated, which is 3D-printed and cast using silicone. Future work will involve leak testing in collaboration with an engineering team at the University of Alberta, with the goal of adopting these masks in the patient population.