Volunteers 3D print emergency respiratory valves

Date:19 March 2020 Author: Kyro Mitchell Tags:, , ,

The sudden influx of coronavirus patients has lead to a shortage of respiratory valves in Italian hospitals. This has put an incredible amount of strain on the country’s already brittle healthcare system.

To get around this problem and ease the strain on Italian hospitals, a group of engineers have turned to 3D printing to quickly and easily produce these scares respiratory valves.

According to Cristian Fracass, one of the engineers printing the valves, “We were told the hospital was desperately looking for more valves. They’re called Venturi valves and are impossible to find at the moment, production can’t keep up with demand.”

The valves in question play a vital role in the hospitals respiratory systems. They connect oxygen masks to respirators used by coronavirus patients suffering from respiratory complications. Unfortunately, purchasing these valves directly from the manufacturer is extremely expensive and is said to cost the hospital thousands each year.

Fracassi and his team where able to re-create the valves using 3D printing machines at Isinnova’s headquarters in Italy, but not before the original manufacturer of the valves threatened to sue for patent infringement.

Speaking to TPI, Fracassi said: “I have lawyers who are evaluating the matter. I am not dealing with it personally because I prefer to devote myself to [the 3D designs]. There were people in danger of life, and we acted.

“We have no intention of profiting from this situation. We are not going to use the designs or product beyond the strict need that forced us to act.”

It remains unclear with the 3D printed valves can be sterilised of reused. What is immediately apparent is the fact that these new values are substantially cheaper than the originals, which cost around $11,000, compared to Fracassi’s, which only cost $1 to produce.

“When we heard about the shortage, we got in touch with the hospital immediately. We printed some prototypes, the hospital tested them and told us they worked,” Fracassi said. “So we printed 100 valves and I delivered them personally.”

Image:Facebook/Cristian Fracassi

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