The Italian health care system finds itself short on parts due to the influx of COVID-19 patients. Due to the nature of the virus people with it are more likely to need breathing support as lungs are in such a bad shape. Some geniuses at one Italian hospital decided to not wait for new parts and make their own instead. They 3D printed a key part of a respirator to help patients get through the worst aspects of COVID-19. Sadly, the company which manufactures the $11,000 part threatened the hospital with legal action so the ~$2 3D printed part won’t be available for other places.
This example is part of a greater movement of hackers, makers, and doers to create open source and 3D printable respirators for the medical system.
While the article uses the term “reanimation device”, it’s clear we’re talking about respirators here, necessary to keep patients alive during respiratory distress. The valve in question is a plastic part, one which likely needs to be changed over when the device is used with each individual patient to provide a sterile flow of air. After the alarm was raised by Nunzia Vallini, a local journalist, a ring around of the 3D printing community led to a machine being sent down to the hospital and the parts being reproduced. Once proven to work, things were stepped up, with another company stepping in to produce the parts in quantity with a high-quality laser fusion printer.