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Italian 3D Printer Company Saves Lives By Recreating 100 Respirator Valves In 24 Hours

A 3D printer company in Italy designed and printed 100 respirator valves in 24 hours for coronavirus patients in what is a remarkable story of saving lives in a hospital that had run out of respiratory valves.

 

The respirator valve connects patients in the intensive care unit to breathing machines. This means that patients’ lives were at risk when the hospital’s units finished.

 

The hospital in Brescia was attending to 250 coronavirus patients with each respirator designed for a maximum of 8hours.

 

However, the turnaround came when Italian Journalist, Nunzia Vallini made a call to Massimo Temporelli, the founder of a digital lab known as FastLab. Vallini explained the problem to him: a hospital in Chiari (a town near the Italian capital) was running out of respiratory machines. The company that supplies the valves could not also supply in time and patients were dying.

 

3d respirator valves coronavirus
The 3D respirator valves Photo: ISINNOVA.
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Temporelli reached out to Cristian Fracassi, the founder and CEO of Engineering company, Isinnova. Fracassi in-turn made contact with Michele Faini, a 3D print manufacturing expert.

 

In collaboration, they then designed the valves which mix oxygen with air and form a critical part of the respirator.

Strength in the face of adversity

Both men then joined their forces with another 3D company know as Lonati to meet the demand for the respiratory valves, as Isinnova had only 6 printers and each device takes about an hour to print.

 

According to Fastcompany, the hospital’s original supplier refused to give Fracassi and co the blueprint for the design of the valve. However, they were able to reverse engineer it by themselves.

 

“We were ready to print the valves in a couple of hours, and the day after we had 100 valves printed,” according to Faini. Fracassi also brought a 3D printer to the hospital to print a few valves there.

 

A second hospital got in touch, requesting more of these 3D respirator valves. “We haven’t slept for two days. We’re trying to save lives,” Fracassi said.

 

Faini says they knew they had to act quickly as soon as they learned of the problem. “All of us have to stay safe and have to use our skills to help [those] who need it,” he adds.

 

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Kolawole Awolope

Passionate about talking, passionate about talking tech.

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