Meet The Italian Engineers 3D-Printing Respirator Parts For Free To Help Keep Coronavirus Patients Alive

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These Italian engineers 3D-printed respirator parts for hospitals with coronavirus patients for free:

As the coronavirus spreads globally, shortages of medical supplies have become a major problem. Manufacturers simply can’t crank up their production of life-saving medical devices fast enough. The biggest supply crunch is with ventilators, but respirator parts like the ones in Italy and even simple nasopharyngeal swabs for testing are all in short supply.

But it raises issues, ranging from the quality of the products in a medical situation to the patents held by the original device’s manufacturers. Typically, new 3D-printed parts have to be certified. In Italy, Fracassi says, emergency rules during the coronavirus pandemic allowed that requirement to be waived. “They said, ‘We know the product you will bring will never be the same,’” says Alessandro Romaioli, Isinnova’s engineer, who designed the 3D-printed valves.

Isinnova now has the capacity to produce around 100 parts per day, and is talking with a second hospital in Italy about sending the valves there, too. Yet potential legal and medical issues have stopped Fracassi from distributing the digital design file more widely, despite receiving hundreds of requests for the 3D-printed valves. There are complexities because hospitals use a wide variety of respirators, each of which has slightly different technical specs and would require slightly different valves. Then, too, there’s the threat of potential patent litigation,“We don’t know if something is patented.

Still, in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, 3D printing offers a smart stop-gap solution at least. Davide Sher, the 3D printing analyst who wrote the

 

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