AM in the time of COVID-19Contest

Montreal hospitals launch global challenge to design low-cost ventilators

The Code Life Ventilator Challenge has a prize of CAD $200,000

As the global community faces a health crisis, it is, at the very least, heartening to see how individuals, organizations and companies are uniting for the common good. Whether it’s self-isolating if you have a cold, supporting employees during these trying times or actively coming up with solutions to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone has a role to play. For those with design and 3D printing experience, there is a new task at hand.

The Montreal General Hospital Foundation and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) have launched The Code Life Ventilator Challenge, a global innovation challenge inviting teams from around the world to design for low-cost, easy-to-manufacture ventilators, which could be deployed anywhere and meet emergency timelines.

“With potentially 70% of the population on the brink of being infected by COVID-19, our worldwide health care systems will be strained beyond their limits,” the Montreal-based challenge states. “Even now, there aren’t enough ventilators to save everyone who needs respiratory support, and doctors are having to make agonizing decisions about who to save. Our modern world provides the means to produce these life-saving ventilators thanks to widespread rapid manufacturing tools—3D printers, CNC machines— combined with low-cost computers (i.e. smartphones, Arduinos, etc.), but what we’re missing is a design.”

Montreal hospitals ventilator challenge

The goal of the challenge is to therefore come up with simple but effective ventilators that are easy to produce and accessible for global deployment. Notably, the ventilator designs must also be easy to verify, so that medical professionals can determine their functionality before using them.

As designs are submitted, the contest organizers at the Montreal General and MUHC will select the top three ventilator models and will make them available to download for free. To encourage participation from local manufacturers, the organizers are also suggesting that participants submit provisional patents before the announcement of the final design, while also granting license to local builders to produce the design during the pandemic.

The submissions will be judged by a team of expert advisors, including ICU physicians, engineers and others, selected by leading medical staff at the Montreal General Hospital. The top submissions will be tested in the Clinical Innovation Platform at the Montreal General Hospital, and the winning designs will released as soon as possible.

If the possibility of helping millions of people wasn’t motivation enough, the organizers have also announced a prize worth CAD $200,000 to the winning teams. Submissions are being accepted until March 31, 2020. Full guidelines and terms can be found here.

To learn more about how the additive manufacturing industry is uniting to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic, visit our AM for COVID-19 Forum.

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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One Comment

  1. As I understood the requirements, they assume that it should be a positive pressure ventilator. But I think, that in current situation (demand of delivering something simple, quick and easy to design, build and deliver), the old version is more promising: socalled “Iron Lung”.
    It is not so portable, small, lightweight as modern (positive pressure) ventilators, but it works, and does not require as accurate control of air parameters as positive pressure ventilators. Patient breaths with atmospheric air, so we have no risk to put any germs from respirator into her/his airways.
    The box may be made of any kind of rigid sheets (plywood, polycarbonate, PMMA, HDPE) cut using laser, saw, or anything, or it may be a section of a PP drainage pipe (diameter of 600 or 700 mm or bigger). The seals around the neck may be easily die-casted of additive-polimerizing silicone rubber in 3d-printed molds.
    Main disadvantage of iron lung is poor portability, but for current usage it is not so important – while using about 10 days per human, for peopole who do not walk in that time.

    Details how does it work:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_lung

    I mean that now, something like the cheapest version from 1940’s could be fine:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_lung#/media/File:Both_Cabinet_Respirator_in_WWII.jpg
    I am during consultation with medical stuff, if it is really useful for patients in current condition – may be here somebody will also think something about that.

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