#scuba Engineers make ventilators from snorkeling masks to combat coronavirus – New York Post

March 25, 2020 - Comment

A pair of engineers in Italy is adapting snorkeling masks to serve as emergency ventilators amid soaring demand for the machines during the country’s coronavirus crisis. Cristan Fracassi and Alessandro Romaioli, who work at the startup company Isinnova in Brescia, a city in Lombardy that has seen more than 3,000 COVID-19 deaths, jumped into action


A pair of engineers in Italy is adapting snorkeling masks to serve as emergency ventilators amid soaring demand for the machines during the country’s coronavirus crisis.

Cristan Fracassi and Alessandro Romaioli, who work at the startup company Isinnova in Brescia, a city in Lombardy that has seen more than 3,000 COVID-19 deaths, jumped into action when their local hospital ran out of valves, which connect patients to the breathing machines, the Evening Standard reported.

They visited the Chiari Hospital, took a look at the valves doctors needed and made a replica using a 3D printer.

“Our first few attempts didn’t succeed, but eventually we made four copies of the prototype on a small 3-D printing machine that we have in our office,” Fracassai and Romaioli wrote in a Sunday New York Times opinion piece.

“While the valve might look like a simple piece of plastic, it’s pretty complex,” they wrote. “The hole that diffuses the oxygen is less than a millimeter in diameter.”

A doctor tested the valves and found them successful, so he asked for 100 more — which they provided.

But then a few hospitals in the region requested copies, prompting the engineers to realize that their valves weren’t one-size-fits-all. Different ventilators likely require different types of valves.

From there, the snorkeling mask concept emerged.

“This sparked a second idea: to modify a snorkeling mask already on the market to create a ventilation-assisted mask for hospitals in need of additional equipment,” they wrote.

On the Isinnova website, the pair said the prototype was tested in the Chiari Hospital. It was “connected to the ventilator body, and has proven to be correctly working,” they wrote.

“The hospital itself was enthusiastic about the idea and decided to test the device on a patient in need,” the engineers said. “The testing was successful.”

“We don’t say this to brag, but to show what is possible,” the duo wrote in the Times piece. “In a moment of crisis, and in a moment when commerce globally is shutting down, there are still many do-it-yourself ways of helping the people around you.”

By Tuesday afternoon, 69,176 COVID-19 cases and 6,820 deaths had been reported in Italy, according to Johns Hopkins University data. A total of 8,326 people have recovered in the country.

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