Reverse Engineering Police Respirator Mask Canister in SOLIDWORKS for Milwaukee Police

The Police Chief of Milwaukee put out a statement March 20th for businesses in the Milwaukee area to donate any Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs) they could due to supply shortages.

MPD’s Detective Eric Draeger’s gave a call to us at GSC shortly after the 20th, for design assistance in hopes of using 3D printing to combat the coronavirus and COVID-19.

Responding to COVID-19 Police Mask Need with SOLIDWORKS & HP 3D Printing




The force needed to ensure they had enough respirator face mask filters to protect its officers and meet demand. They had masks, but not enough filters to adequately supply the masks and their officers.

It took creative thinking to find filters that weren’t depleted in stores or online. Using filters different than the standard issue involved re-designing and reverse engineering the force’s respirator mask filter canister in SOLIDWORKS.

After sourcing new filters from Milwaukee Tool and O-rings from Bradley Corp, GSC’s 3D printing expert Aaron Niedermann quickly started prototyping an adapter for the filters, since they are a different size from the force’s normal supply.

He reverse engineered the filter canisters in SOLIDWORKS and began testing prototype parts on our HP 3D printers. Aaron had a working prototype within a few hours.

Watch the Design Process at High-Speed in SOLIDWORKS


“We went from idea, to the design, to the actual field part in 5 and a half days. And that’s unheard of,” said Detective Draeger. That is the beauty of 3D printing – the ability to quickly adapt and change as needed.

Open Source 3D Printing Design Files

We have made the design files available online. Please note that for law enforcement, these design files are specific to the issued mask the Milwaukee Police Department uses, and if you have the same mask you can use these files for easy adoption.

The coronavirus particles are very small, making filtration a complex process and a major factor in the design process. The face mask includes a silicon lining for a great seal. GSC 3D printed the threads on the HP 5200 printer for a secure fit. There is an air-tight cap for storage.

All of these features are vital, because leakage can render the masks ineffective and expose officers.

Watch the Full Story

If you like this story, and would like to learn more about Detective Draeger, GSC, and the behind-the-scenes of this project, you can view our blog, “We Needed Masks” – GSC 3D Prints Hundreds of Parts for Milwaukee Police Protective Masks with HP Technology.”


GSC fuels customer success with 3D engineering solutions for design, simulation, data management, electrical schematics, PCB, technical documentation, and 3D printing, as well as the most comprehensive consulting, technical support, and training in the industry. As a leading provider of SOLIDWORKS solutions, HP, and Markforged 3D printing technologies, GSC’s world-class team of dedicated professionals have helped numerous companies innovate and increase productivity by leveraging advanced technologies to drive 3D business success. Founded in 1989, GSC is headquartered in Germantown, WI. For more information about GSC, please visit