One of the biggest problems with coronavirus is that seriously ill people require intensive care and oxygen to fight off the infection. That means the need for ventilators that, unfortunately, can break down at inopportune times. Engineers have come to the rescue of Covid-19 patients in a Brescia, Italy hospital, thanks to additive manufacturing of valves critical to operation of these breathing machines.
According to a story in the newspaper La Stampa, a Northern Italian hospital needed replacement valves for patient ventilators. But the supplier had run out and, with mandatory quarantines, new valves could not be manufactured in short order. 3D printing proved its mettle when the supply chain completely broke down.
Hospital officials put out an emergency call to the engineering community, and Cristian Fracassi, CEO of Isinnova, responded by bringing a 3D printer directly to the hospital. In just a few hours he reengineered the part and produced a working prototype using a filament extrusion system.
Successfully tested, the hospital then turned the design files over to local company Lonati for production using a polymer laser powder bed fusion process. According to reports, ten Covid-19 patients are now breathing by machines that use a 3D printed valve.
Fracassi expects to face some criticism. Extreme caution is always required when dealing with life-saving medical devices. In normal times, health certifications are necessary to use those valves. But when peoples’ lives are at risk, we cannot stop in the face of bureaucracy, he said. Fracassi and his collaborators are ready to supply to the valves to other hospitals in need.
Filed Under: News, Valves & Manifolds