A critical shortage of medical respirators in Spain during the coronavirus crisis is leading healthcare professionals across the country to make heartbreaking life-and-death decisions in hospital, choosing which patients will die and which will survive because of access to the scant respirators available.
While Spain’s Health Ministry awaits shipments of more respirators from overseas, inventors, engineers and techology innovators across Spain have scrambled to come up with designs that can be used with high-tech 3D printers to create respirators that can both function to help save lives and be produced quickly and at low cost.
Spanish engineers working together through a group formed on social-messaging app Telegram, called “Coronavirus Makers”, have been able to design respirators that can be easily manufactured with 3D printers. The hundreds of people collaborating on the initiative have devised a three-dimensional model of a respirator capable of mass production using 3D printers and with a very low production cost.
Meanwhile in Andalucia, an engineer and graduate in Medicine from the University of Córdoba (UCO) has devised a prototype of an automatic respirator modifying a printer to turn the machine itself into an artificial fan that will pump air for a patient having difficulty breathing at a rate that can be easily programmed according to each patient’s needs.
In Asturias, the regional Ministry of Science, Innovation and University is working with health authorities in the validation of a prototype of an automatic respirator created by a group of researchers calling themselves “Resistance Team”.
Built using a standard 3D printer, the prototype is currently being clinically tested at the Central University Hospital of Asturias (HUCA). The inventors have generated open source documentation so that anyone with a 3D printer can automatically print parts from anywhere and donate respirators to local healthcare services.
And in Barcelona, a team of doctors, researchers and engineers will shortly begin production of 50-100 medically approved respirators daily for distribution to hospitals to the Catalan Medical Emergency Service. The tech innovators behind the program devised a low-cost 3D field respirator based on plans published by Rice University in Houston and approved by medical experts at the Parc Taulí hospital in Sabadell.
The group plans to begin manufacture of the respirators at a site in Barcelona’s port area through an agreement with the Zona Franca Consortium in the coming days.
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