German scientists have created a ventilator in seven days using a 3D printer – with a little help from a student car mechanic who worked nights to help put it together.
The project was a close cooperation led by Dr Ronny Grunert from the University of Leipzig together with experts from the West Saxony University of Applied Sciences and the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology.
Lukas Basan, 20, had been asked by his mother Fabiola, 53, who was working on a project to help them make it work when they finally had the parts, and he was credited in the press release unveiling the device as providing the “mechanical drive concepts that had to be designed and tested, together with rotary and linear motors that he evaluated and integrated with a gearbox”.
He said: “I am studying automotive engineering and I am in the fourth term. My mum Fabiola works at the University as a lab engineer in the field of biomedical engineering and asked if I could help the project as it was really important. It was an advantage that 3D printing is one of my main areas of interest.”
He arrived in the late afternoon, and worked together with the team throughout the night, so by the next day, they had a working model that when connected up to a phantom lung to measure its capabilities, performed perfectly at the first go.
Mum Fabiola said that with the lockdown they realised they were short-staffed with only four people to put it together, and that was why she had asked her son, and he turned out to be a perfect fit to supply the extra knowledge that they needed together with their medical skills.
The team say that once printed by anyone using a regular 3D printer, it only needs to have a simple electric motor widely available in any electronics warehouse and some simple sensors also widely available, and it can then be put into operation immediately.
Speak to Newsflash project manager Dr Ronny Grunert said: “We had all been shocked by the images being shared what was happening at hospitals in Spain, Italy and now New York. We wanted to do something to help.”
He said the also wanted to prevent a similar scenario in Germany, and so the research team decided to create their own ventilator that could be made available in emergencies when there were no longer enough other machines available.
The team warned that although not certified, the device had been extensively tested and it worked and therefore could be printed and recreated in hospitals when there was no other alternative. They just need people with 3D printers to join the network.
The team confirmed they managed to create the device in just seven days and are now in production creating three of the emergency devices a day, which can be used anywhere in the world as needed.
Dr Grunert added: “If we can build up an international network with access to 3D printers, then we would be able to produce a substantial amount of these machines and make them available in different lands.”
Some additional electronic parts that cannot be created by the printer including the motors are readily available in vast quantities in the open marketplace, say the team, and as long as the printers can do their work, mass production in the near future would be easily possible.
They said the testing had been done at the University Hospital in Leipzig using the phantom lungs equipped with sensors to confirm it was working.
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