Welsh Government Innovation supports Design Reality Ltd to develop an elastomeric pandemic respirator in response to COVID-19.

Organisation |
Design Reality Ltd
Closing date: 2/03/2021

The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has highlighted key shortcomings of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that is available to frontline workers in the UK. 


There are two types of respirators, disposable and reusable. Disposables are more affordable but depend on unreliable supply chains and the sheer volume needed per year ends up costing in the long term. Another drawback is that they have become notorious as pollution sources and require safe disposal methods. Reusable, elastomeric respirators, on the other hand, offer the user a much higher level of protection at higher initial upfront cost. Their filters need periodic replacement, adding to that cost and turning these respirators into disposable consumables, albeit with a longer shelf life.


Design Reality’s pandemic mask not only addresses these issues, but also eliminates the gambling factor for users of having to choose from a myriad of existing models and potentially failing their mask fitting tests. The first target group of the pandemic mask are medics; therefore, Design Reality’s prime objective was to create a piece that is easy to take apart and clean by the user. Pivotal to that was their choice of product materials that yielded a light yet durable system with higher longevity than similar reusable models. The result is a contamination-proof, aesthetically pleasing mask that costs almost as little as a disposable but has all the enhanced protection of an elastomeric reusable product.


Besides frontline workers, Design Reality’s new mask will also benefit the general public, as it can fit faces of various shapes and sizes, unlike most existing models that were designed with male-dominated professions in mind. The respirator can be worn during the COVID-19 pandemic and easily stored for years in case of future health crises. It will be distributed from its manufacturing premises in Wales to ensure a robust local supply chain and the highest product quality.


Design Reality Limited was established 20 years ago and has spent 18 of those years developing PPE, mainly for respiratory protection. They now design across a range of product sectors, including medical devices, consumer and industrial applications.

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