A START UP company, Isinnova based in the city of Brescia in Lombardy, Italy reacted immediately when approached for help by their local hospital which had run out of valves for ventilators.
Owning a small 3D printer, they tried a number of experiments until they quickly produced a working valve and supplied several hundred.
They then discussed with doctors trying to cope with the influx of patients who needed ventilators whether there was any possibility of creating an emergency mask and they came up with a spectacular idea by investigating the adaptation of snorkelling masks.
Unable to produce actual masks themselves, they contacted the Decathlon Group which produces and sells the Easybreath mask used in snorkelling and the company happily supplied them with some models to experiment on as well as the CAD drawings of the mask.
They designed a new component to guarantee the connection to the ventilator which they named the Charlotte valve and started 3D printing these valves.
The hospital itself was enthusiastic about the idea and decided to test the device on a patient and this proved to be successful.
They have now shared the details of their design after applying for an emergency patent on the valve to ensure that there is no profiteering and they are not making money on the supply of the valves or royalties should other parties apply to use it.
They have made it very clear that this is an emergency option for healthcare centres that cannot obtain the traditional masks and because it is an uncertified biomedical device, patients are being asked by the hospitals which are using it to sign a declaration of acceptance of use.
Healthcare facilities in difficulty will be able to purchase the Decathlon mask and then obtain the specification for the valve which they can then have produced themselves with local 3D printing companies.