The United States is on the brink of a critical shortage – a true stop gap in supply – of ventilators for coronavirus patients. Researchers and engineers alike are scrambling to create anything at all from developing new machines that can be quickly deployed to refurbishing older ones.
Now, a group of British Oxford scientists are collaborating globally with like-minded ventilator design engineers on “open source” designs to build these much-needed ventilators. Others began to step up the effort by sharing what would have once been proprietary information with other companies and engineers, to help fill the urgent demand for ventilator machines and other components.
Open Source for All
The concept of “open source” is nothing new. For those not familiar with it, open source simply refers to something that individuals can modify and share because its core design is made publicly accessible. It was often used to describe software, distinguished from “proprietary” or “closed source” software, in which its creators make the source code available to others who would like to view, copy, alter, and share it. Now the same thing is happening with highly sought-after ventilators to try to curb COVID-19.
A Global Team Effort
A global network of engineers and medical personnel have joined forces to develop and test these open-source, rapidly deployable, low-cost ventilators to solve this massive supply chain shortage. The economics of this is huge: all components for the medical device from sensors to the plastic casings down to the nuts, bolts and valves have all been impacted by our sudden, plummeting global economy.
Companies call NPI Services, Inc. When Quick Turn Matters! Many medical device companies collaborate with NPI Services, Inc. on turnkey design services to get their PCBAs quickly and to receive real-time supply chain analysis or ROM (rough order of magnitude) budgetary quotes. NPI is an essential WOSB small business (woman-owned-small-business) certified to support these medical and defense innovators working to keep our economy going and country safe.
MIT began to develop its E-Vent system in an effort to use easily accessible medical technology and parts that can easily be sourced to form an emergency ventilator. Another collaboration between the Mercedes Formula One team and University College London (UCL) saw the development of a breathing aid that may seriously curb COVID-19 sufferers from reaching the stage where they need a ventilator.
GitLab repositories now share design concepts of all these sorts of new technologies in an effort to get medical facilities and engineering labs to build their own types of tools to help flatten the curve. These online communities and repositories provide a space for engineers, designers, medical professionals, and others to generate and validate ideas for open source designs
These designs, with the help of volunteer testing and practice, will eventually lead to the creation of critical medical devices that we not only need now, but that may very well become new life-saving instruments of the future we have yet to even realize.