AM in the time of COVID-19AM Industry

Making a 3D printable respirator in 1000 hours, from sketch to final product

No ventilation, using only compressed oxygen

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Right now, 3D printing is a common denominator in addressing the world’s biggest challenge: the lack of emergency respiratory devices. During the development of this project feedback from Brazil, Colombia, USA, Canada, Argentina, Morocco, Tunis, Italy, Taiwan, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Poland, Russia, Belarus and Austria confirmed that the key ingredient for a newly designed emergency respiration system has to be simplicity, a level that I have never been working on before. And that these simplified devices need to remain functional and efficient. The result is this Printable Ventilator-Free* Respiratory Kit, which can be downloaded free from GrabCAD.

With a big hand from Italian company Mitho SRL, I managed to get access to SLA 3D printing at home within 2 days. This confirmed that a quick validation method for designs is a must-have in every engineering office. I also received plenty of samples printed with different techniques: FDM, SLS, CJP, SLA and they were useful to confirm theoretical efficiency and accuracy. The more likely a part is to be printed with a low-cost, low-accuracy 3D printer, the more its design should be efficient and its imperfections (such as surface roughness) should be accounted for in the simulation.

Keeping it simple

Strong experience in automotive, bicycle and industrial design only goes so far. For one, a ventilator should not have even a single spring involved in its structure. It would limit possible usage, where non-standardized parts are impossible to buy or produce. A minimum number of standardized parts were used in this project (rubber o-rings, bolts and hoses). A complete system build with all features will not cost more than 40 euro.

3D printable respirator

Fasteners for a mechanical structure are like fittings for hydraulics or concrete for construction. In a world of medical air devices, ISO 5356 conical connection is a standard. Unfortunately, there were no readily available designs anywhere on the web. In order for a final user to build this system with all the necessary features, these common interfaces are a must-have.

3D printable respirator

Good enough

The art of compromise is a choice between accuracy and following guidelines. No parts have been left with an “unfinished” or “could be much better” feeling. The timeline chart at the top of this article refers to how many revisions were needed before focusing on final system integration.

There are a few main parts of the project that have been never shown before and, due to the advanced work on the complete system underway, had to wait for a common reveal. An unprecedented usage of interface mix with ISO and TriClamp allows connecting the passive system with hygienic sensors and transmitters.

3D printable respirator

Even the best product, without the right presentation and explanation, will remain unattractive and unclear. User experience level is a reason why every respirator element has been unified in terms of communication with the final user and a clear file structure has been introduced. The most complex elements come with detailed PDF documentation, links to instructional videos, or detailed pictures in their folders.

  • Ventilator-free means that there is no electrical or mechanical ventilator needed: the only powered medium is compressed oxygen
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Filip Kober

I am an MSc. engineer with experience in e-mobility, bicycle drivetrains, chemical & dairy industrial plant design, manufacturing management and start-ups. I have analysis abilities for construction, process optimization and simulation. The projects, which I lead are at all development phases (MVP, proof-of-concept, business strategy). I am also an expert in 3D design, assembly, production techniques, organization and management. I love to work with creative people in international teams.

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