AM in the time of COVID-19Contest

CoVent-19 Challenge asks designers and engineers to create rapidly deployable mechanical ventilator

A team of Boston area anesthesiology residents has today officially launched the CoVent-19 Challenge, which invites millions of designers and engineers to come up with a design for a rapidly deployable, minimum viable mechanical ventilator to help treat coronavirus patients. The challenge is hosted on Stratasys’ GrabCAD platform.

The CoVent-19 Challenge consists of an eight-week-long hackathon (starting April 1), which is open to teams and individuals from around the globe. Finalists chosen from the pool of participants will then team up to work with Stratasys 3D printing experts to turn their designs into functional prototypes for testing.

“As anesthesiologists at Massachusetts General Hospital, we are experts at using ventilators to care for critically ill patients, so it was natural for us to feel an immediate calling to do something about the ventilator shortage,” explained Dr. Richard Boyer, Founder and Director of the CoVent-19 Challenge. “We’ve been watching as countries around the world struggle with providing invasive mechanical ventilation to all who need it. Despite the important efforts by ventilator manufacturers to ramp up their own production, there’s a need for a solution particularly for areas where standard mechanical ventilators may be hard to obtain.”

The CoVent-19 Challenge aims to find a solution to the severe ventilator shortage the world is facing. The medical devices are critical in this pandemic, as they can help patients with severe coronavirus-related respiratory problems to breathe and, ultimately, to live. In Italy, we’ve seen the harsh reality of what a ventilator shortage looks like, with doctors having to triage patients, choosing who will be connected to the life-saving device. The U.S. healthcare system is also in desperate need for more ventilators, and several companies with industrial manufacturing capacity are redirecting their work to focus on ventilator parts.

CoVent-19 Challenge

Over the next eight days, engineers and designers on GrabCAD will put their minds to work to come up with possible ventilator designs, which can be deployed in emergencies like the one we are currently facing. The first round, which will run for four weeks, will focus on initial designs. A panel of judges, including Stratasys Founder and Chief Innovation Officer Scott Crump, will select 20 finalists from the initial entries, based on safety, reliability, manufacturability and cost evaluations.

The finalist teams will then work with medical and technical experts for the next four weeks to develop and test functional prototypes. Stratasys application engineers will provide 3D printing consulting and services in this stage. To expedite the ventilator development, the CoVent-19 Challenge has partnered with private and public sector bodies and secured experts in regulatory measures and safety testing. Stratasys is sponsoring the CoVent-19 Challenge, along with Ximedica, Valispace, HackFund and Yelling Mule. The three top finalists will also win a total of $10,000 in credits for Stratasys Direct Manufacturing.

For more on how additive manufacturing is rallying to support relief responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, consult our dedicated forum.

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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