Inside Weather Lends an Open Source Hand to the Medical Community

03.30.20 | By
Inside Weather Lends an Open Source Hand to the Medical Community

While industrial manufacturers are ramping up production to meet the needs of medical professionals tomorrow, essential supplies are currently in short supply around the globe today. Setting an example of how designers can lend a hand in these efforts, online furniture retailer Inside Weather have redirected focus to develop an open source resources library intended to guide businesses and individuals to produce medical masks and face shields to help keep medical practitioners safe.

Developed in partnership with the San Joaquin General Hospital in Northern California, Inside Weather industrial designers focused on three primary pieces of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Masks, Face Shields, and Containment. Two of the three templates are currently available, including a protective face mask that can be assembled using readily available household materials like vacuum bags as an acceptable alternative to medical grade supplies.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge compared the effectiveness of household materials against a surgical mask. The results showed an average household vacuum cleaner bag provides a filtration efficacy of 94.4%, only 2% behind the effectiveness of a surgical mask which stands at 96.4%. A tea towel at 83.2% efficiency.

Similarly, the design team researched the basic components used to make a medical face shield, and were able to identify four basic elements: a flexible plastic guard, a strip of foam, a foam-to-plastic adhesive, and a strap for securing to the head. While the plastic guard piece isn’t as readily available as its other three components, it is identified as reusable and easily sanitized.

Inside Weather is scheduled to deliver 1,000 Face Shields and 5,000 additional replaceable components to San Joaquin General Hospital later this week after an initial small batch was tested and deemed acceptable for use by the hospital staff.

While this effort may seem surprising, Inside Weather CEO Ben Parsa attributes the effort to a very personal connection, as it was his very own brother and Program Director of Family Medicine at the San Joaquin General Hospital who reached out for help.

“There are only a handful of large players who can mass produce these so we shouldn’t rely solely on them for something we needed yesterday,” says Parsa, “You/We can make it. Everyone can have something that can still be effective.”

Gregory Han is Tech Editor of Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at