Corona virus UV-c N95 mask sterilization project

We built a corona killer! Check it out:

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I hope that isn’t actually UV-C, this recent article suggests it’s something to stay away from.


I doubt it. The cardboard box suggests that they are regular Phillips brand, and the video says around 1:00 that they’re “using these shop lights for purposes.”

Yeah using UV-C bulbs like that would be risky to say the least.

I think that UV-C lights are used in most high school science labs safety goggle shelves to disinfect safety glasses so it’s probably safe enough for this particular use case. If I’m not mistaken the concern is with prolonged direct exposure to the skin, but as long as the chest is closed during use I don’t see any major issues. But then again I’m not a scientist.

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Philips makes UVC lamps. The exact lamp in question, shown at 2:35, is this one, which is indeed a UVC lamp.

I think the word “demonstration” somehow got cut out in the audio.

I may be wrong, but, as far as I understand, UVC is safe as long as you are not exposed to it.

Here is a video from bigclivedotcom discussing UVC, including a demonstration of a lamp very similar to the one shown in the video.


I have to admit I didn’t even see the video, just the open box with lights on and words UV-C. Ok, so assuming there is some sort of interlock so that the lid can not be opened with the lights on, guess it would be ok.


Given the warning stickers on the lid I bet there isn’t an interlock yet. it’d be a great use for a limit switch!

Great idea!

We find it funny that while we are typing a response to your questions, you are coming to realize that you made knee jerk decisions to reply so quickly. We are all scientist at heart guys. Do some research before replying.

We did not install the UV-c bulbs for this video, because yes, they are not something to play around with. For the purposes of the video, we only had the shop lights installed(fluorescent).

We have done our homework. Our coach is a meat scientist, and has experience with using UV to dry age beef. He has helped us with this project.

What is dangerous is that the nurses and CNA’s across the United States are being given 1-2 N95 masks to use for who knows how long. They are also given a brown paper lunch sack to put the used (maybe contaminated) mask in to store it for 24 hours in hopes that the virus dies. Using UV-c is very effective against similar MERS & SARS viruses. The other piece is that UV-c does NOT hurt the functionality of the mask. It retains 97% of its factory filtering abilities.

Here is the link from the manufacturer that has the specs declaring the bulbs in the brown cardboard box as UV-c:


Wish us luck!! We are doing this to help protect our parents who work in the health care field at several different levels. Maybe this will encourage a lot of us to help out in our communities on some way, until we see the new game reveal and can start back on robotics.


You have obviously done research, that’s great, what we don’t need is other young students seeing the demonstration and not understanding the details, trying to copy it, and hurting themselves in some way. I think it would have been prudent to at least have had some additional details in the original post explaining any potential dangers.


Great call!

Where to start?

This is all 120V wiring. If you are not an electrician, or have an experienced adult, STOP HERE. DO NOT PROCEED.

UV-C is not widely studied nor published on by the CDC because of its Past dangers to the general public in public settings. However, many new robotics companies are developing much safer mechanisms in which to deliver a very useful type of germicidal tool. After this corona virus, many of us are going to have opportunities with these companies.

If you look at our build of the box, it is designed to contain all of the light from escaping while in operation. As long as our lid stays shut when the lights are on, and the lights are not on when the lid is open, there is no risk.

The risk is the light burning your eyes and exposed skin. DO NOT operate the lamps with the lid open.

If this post needs removed, we understand. We did not mean to stir up anything or put anyone in harms way.


I now want to put some uvc lamps on a dr4b and drive around disinfecting stuff
(Within the boundaries of safety) :slight_smile:
Do you think hospitals would be interested?

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Here is a site explaining why we went the route we did. This is a robot that automatically moves around the room, in an autonomous mode, without bumping into things while disinfecting the room with UVC lights.

There are many more examples if you curious. This will be a good opportunity for us for jobs later on.


Do you know if this would affect 3D prints?
I am currently 3D printing PPE for a local hospital and I am trying to compile the methods they can use to disinfect the PPE and continue using it
I am currently 3D printing masks to help These fine people
And once I finish helping them I will help other hospitals.

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PLA (the filament specified on the linked site) does not last very long even outdoors. Meaningful UVC exposure will probably turn PLA prints into single-use items.

PLA really isn’t a good material choice for anything where durability is important. As far as common materials go, PETG seems like a much better choice for the linked project; ABS might be fine as well.

FDM prints in general are quite challenging to keep sterile. The smoothness of SLA prints will make the task much easier, but still far from trivial — you would have to carefully choose from a select few (likely expensive) materials.

See here for some more information.

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I would pull the post. You may be robotics engineers to be, but certainly not medical engineers. As Jpearman noted, you will have people try to replicate what you without understanding what they are doing. Also, there is no evidence as to the filters being fit for service after your process.

I do think it is good to explore new ides, but you should get medical equipment experts to review a serious project before posting.

I would caution people to be careful with 3D printing as well before putting it into medical situation, you may cause unintended harm.


I think your design is great but I would strongly suggest scrapping this video and creating a new one that CLEARLY states the dangers of uvc and that CLEARLY states and perhaps has a sign or text showing at all times that you are using different bulbs for the demonstration. A further warning about the dangers of wiring ANYTHING that’s going to be plugged into a wall socket is needed. I appreciate seeing this design but the potential for someone to try to recreate this without the proper understanding or skill set is troubling.


Exactly my thoughts. Just take the original video and put warnings in it and repost it.


I’ve heard healthcare workers are using some sort of chemical vapor to clean masks. Maybe another form of this box could be created utilizing the vapor too. The boxes could be a great way to boost capacity if needed


MIT’s project to use machinery on campus to make face shields:

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Disclaimer: I’m a robotics engineer (mostly VEX IQ :grin:), but not a medical device engineer.

You likely cannot use an SLA 3D printer for manufacturing any parts that you expect to sterilize via UV-C light. SLA printers typically use UV light to cure the liquid resin into solid. Continued exposure to UV light typically makes SLA parts increasingly brittle until they fail.