revolutionary mask designed for comfort, safety and speech clarity. A necessary PPE product for a global pandemic.

SaniChoice identified a need in the global market and approached KM Design for a design concept

As Corona, Covid-19 hit South Africa and the South African government ordered a country-wide lockdown. Citizens in South Africa were called upon to wear masks as added protection. Surgical masks were being worn once or twice before being thrown away thereby increasing unnecessary waste in our landfills. Fabric masks were being overused without being washed, and studies warned that neither surgical nor fabric masks reduce the SARS-CoV-2 virus spread. 

SaniChoice took notice and approached KM Product Design to create a protective yet reusable mask. It was clear that masks are not made equal. The N95 masks were and still are in serious shortage (even for the medical professionals who are exposed to the highest levels of SARS-CoV-2 and they are most in need of the strongest protection against the virus). SaniChoice noticed that the Centre for Disease Control didn’t recommend the N95 for general use because they were in short demand and because they are difficult to fit correctly.  SaniChoice saw the need and wanted to work in conjunction with KM to design a properly fitted mask that seals closely to the face and filters out a high percentage of particle microns, in a similar way to the N95. SaniChoice requested that the reusable mask be able to utilize recycled materials for the filter, such as tissue, old t-shirt material and paper towel and that it be more user friendly. This was also to bring down the costs for the end-user as the surgical masks were quickly becoming overpriced, due to being disposable.

Our original 2D design, with pinching holes to hold toilet paper or cloth

Research and exploration phase

During the first research and exploration phase, the mask was envisioned as a 2Dimensional webbed plastic form, like netting that could wrap around the face. One of the major drives for this was to keep the manufacturing cost down and speed up time to market.

This 2D approach quickly became an issue when testing as the plastic was unpredictable when changed from a 2D form to 3D. The makeshift filter did not stay in place neatly and did not hug the face comfortably.

Early Concept

Concept Mockup

The next 3D Form that solved many issues

It was ultimately decided to move to a 3D form that could hug the face more comfortably and provide the user with better protection. The using of tissue paper or scraps of material for the filter also changed to a fixed die cut 3ply filter in accordance with the World Health Organization requirements that would be wedged between the mask front with a specially design retainer on the inside. This saves the end-user the inconvenience of cutting a specific shape out of an unruly, flexible and hard-to-cut material.

Material changes for sterilisation solutions

This throw away function allows the user to discard a potentially contaminated filter. But to sanitize the mask itself before inserting a new clean filter, some materials had to change.

The strapping material also changed from fabric elastic to silicon. This meant it was easier to keep sanitized, by either washing, wiping, or microwave steaming for multiple use.

Sterilisation container

Together with SaniChoice it was decided to design and ultimately manufacture a sanitizing container that the mask could be placed in, filled with water to a specific level, and inserted into a microwave for sterilization purposes. This meant material choice was crucial.

Just before level 5 Covid-19 lockdown up until late July 2020, the mask went through countless alterations focusing on sizing, comfortability, function, materials and colors to ensure that the best design possible was achieved…the KM way.


The Final Design

The final design is a 100 percent reusable mask, that is easy to speak with, speech is audible, glasses don’t mist up, is super soft and comfortable and most importantly properly protects the wearer from dust, germs and the spread of viruses.

Our Final Product

Great designs can start anywhere, even as a simple sketch…and executed even in tough (pandemic) times.

Visit SaniChoice to see the final product


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