Engineers create respirators with diving masks due to shortages in hospitals

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In countries like Italy, the coronavirus pandemic has exceeded the efforts and infrastructure that governments have, so the participation of all sectors is necessary in order to succeed.

Italian hospitals have been overwhelmed, so a couple of engineers put all their creativity at the service of their compatriots and created respirators using equipment that is commonly used for diving.

Cristian Fracassi and Alessandro Romaioli work at Isinnova, a technology development company in Brescia, Italy, a city that has been paralyzed for two weeks.

Despite the fact that they had never made any such article, they realized that the respirators in the hospitals were insufficient, so they set to work.

Unfortunately, they could not find valves for respiratory equipment, as they were exhausted, and they do not produce something like this in their company.

They went to their local hospital to check the valves, which are the ones that carry oxygen to the patient.

We return to our office and start working, fueled by adrenaline. Our first attempts were unsuccessful, but we finally made four copies of the prototype on a small 3D printing machine that we have in our office.

While the valve may look like a simple piece of plastic, it is quite complex. The oxygen diffusing hole is less than a millimeter in diameter. The next day, we returned to the hospital and gave our valves to a doctor, and he examined them. They worked, and he asked for a hundred more, so we went back to the office and returned to the hospital with them.

We hope this lasts for a few days. Still, the coronavirus continues. Some hospitals in Northern Italy asked us to make copies of the same piece. We are printing them now.

—Cristian and Alessandro

But since the need is great, they decided that creating valves was not enough, so they thought about creating a whole breathing apparatus from elements that already exist.

This spawned a second idea: modifying a snorkel mask already on the market to create a ventilation-assisted mask for hospitals that need additional equipment, which was successful when the hospital tested it on a patient who needed it.

—Cristian and Alessandro

In the face of the crisis, we must contribute our knowledge and skills to help others. They are true heroes.