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Coronavirus: Follow the international race to create a cheap respirator


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The

crisis caused by Covid-19

 It is saturating the hospitals of the paneta. Respiratory failure problems are one of the symptoms associated with this virus. For this reason, initiatives are emerging around the world to

develop affordable ventilation systems

, such as those proposed in the project

Open Source Ventilator

.

In Spain, at the end of last week, a WhatsApp conversation between three colleagues from the areas of innovation, biomedicine and engineering has ended with the creation of a forum called

Innovative Breathing Aid (AIR)

, which, to date, has 230 participants.

The initial group was made up of Jorge Barrero, CEO of the Cotec Foundation, Andreu Climent, CEO and founder of Corify Care – a spin off of the Gregorio Maran Hospital – and Csar Garca, researcher at the Discover Object Oriented Electronics Association and expert in 3D printing.

As Barrero comments to SINC, "the idea arises from

a citizen need

In addition to complying with health recommendations, try to explore what we professionals can do, each in our field, to help in this crisis. "

"We have focused on the search for

Cheaper and easier to manufacture alternatives for ventilating coronavirus patients

. Taking into account that these procedures can become a bottleneck in saturated hospital ICUs, "he explains.

In

Italy replaced disposable parts with others made with 3D printers

, of reduced value, when the supplier communicated that it would not be able to meet the demand of all its customers.


Given the shortage of supplies for artificial respirators, an Italian firm used 3D printing technology to manufacture its replacements

Given the shortage of supplies for artificial respirators, an Italian firm used 3D printing technology to manufacture their replacements

Engineers, manufacturers, entrepreneurs and doctors

The debate "has incorporated many volunteers, such as engineers, manufacturers, entrepreneurs and doctors, some of them from the front line of intensive care units, and we have seen that it makes sense to work on at least three fronts," he continues.

On the one hand, "we have planned to study how we can help industries improve their production capacity. The second option is the reuse of other equipment that could be applied with minor tweaks – such as the devices used by people who they have sleep apnea – and the third, and most radical, is to design a new device that can complement the most sophisticated technologies. "

These new, simpler respirators "could be used in less severe patients and thus allow more complex equipment to be released for people who are worse off," he stresses. The plan is

offer open source blueprints of devices that can be manufactured quickly and in a distributed manner

using techniques such as 3D printing on some of the components.

The ideas of the AIRE platform are evolving very fast. "There are many proposals and some of them – specifically those based on reusable medical material – could be in the prototype or scalable idea phase in a matter of days," says this manager.

The Basque firm Tecnalia is also actively participating in the initiative and its activity will focus on areas of support for the industry and on contributing ideas for reengineering existing technologies, Barrero points out.

An exercise in solidarity

The director of Cotec comments that the AIRE project starts from "a totally disinterested solidarity exercise, which also coincides with similar ideas in other parts of the world", such as the aforementioned Open Source Ventilator.

"It is a citizen initiative. All of us who integrate it are doing so on an individual basis. If at any time Cotec or Tecnalia have played a leading role, it has already been diluted. We do not want to have any institutional presence or special visibility. It is only about offer our support so that this goes forward, "he concludes.

SINC Agency

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