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This contribution was moved here from Technical Innovation of Masks and Face Coverings 2020


The useful life of masks is only five uses as per CDC guidance. This is a solution to address the primary failure mode and extend mask life.



The primary failure mode limiting the number of effective uses of a CDC approved face covering is loss of sealing between the mask and wearer's face due to material deformation from normal use.

High Level Requirements

  1. Innovation shall not disrupt current supply chain (must not reduce global mask production capacity).
  2. Innovation shall be cost neutral for mask users.
  3. Innovation should be economically beneficial for mask users.
  4. Innovation shall be capable of being produced globally through existing manufacturing facilities.
  5. Innovation shall be able to be produced at scale to meet demand.
  6. Innovation shall double the useful life of masks.
  7. Innovation should extend useful life of masks by factor of 5.
  8. Innovation should be retrofittable with existing or future mask stockpiles.
  9. Innovation shall not make masks significantly more burdensome to wear.


Concept of Operations

In order to 'refresh' the seal on masks, a self-adhering seal will be sold as a separate product offering. These seals will be designed to fit onto standard mask designs. Customizable seals will be sold as a product offering for those who have non-standard masks (including homemade).

Seals will be made from standard sealing materials and profiles, thus allowing for seamless scaling of manufacturing for build up to and during pandemics. Standard sealing profiles were initially designed for industrial and commercial applications and would likely extend life of sealing surface past secondary failure mode of mask. Additional research should be conducted to determine maximum effectiveness of a sealing solution, which would be bound by the secondary and tertiary failure modes.

Economic Viability

Estimated MSRP per seal is between 1 and 5 USD. Bulk pricing would drive cost down significantly. For purposes of this evaluation, it will be assumed that the cost of seal is equal to cost of a single mask. With this assumption, the retrofitted mask would need to last at a minimum of 10 uses in order for a user to break even economically. The conservative estimations on mask life extension (5x) make the cost-benefit ratio positive.

Conceptual Designs

  • Bulb seal
    • Adhesive backed
    • Press on
    • Adhesive applied
  • Cloth seal
    • Adhesive backed
    • Iron On
    • Press On
  • Adhesive backed neoprene sheet seal

Who will take these actions?

Product Designer


Contract manufacturer or commercial partner

What are the projected costs?

Costs dependent on scale and scope. Relatively low cost for product development, material, manufacturing, and distribution as this is largely leveraging existing sealing technologies from other industrial sectors.


From kick-off to manufacturing at scale can be on the order of weeks or months depending on objectives and cost targets.

About the author(s)

Author's LinkedIn

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