Orlando nonprofit joins Oregon medical team creating 3D-printed ventilators

Limbitless Solutions working with Oregon Health and Science University

ORLANDO, Fla. – Two teams more than 3,000 miles apart are coming together in hopes of helping hospitals across the country with 3D ventilators.

“The first time I got to hear the device in testing and just hearing it breathe kind of in the background, it was overwhelming and it was so moving,” Albert Manero, president of Limbitless Solutions said about a new 3D ventilator that could possibly be used to fight COVID-19.

Limbitless Solutions, a nonprofit organization based in the University of Central Florida and which specializes in prosthetics for children joined forces with a medical team at Oregon Health and Science University to create 3D ventilators.

Dr. Albert Chi, associate professor at OHSU says the design is unique because of its low manufacturing cost.

“The design is just so simplistic and it’s beautiful in the fact that it can provide basic ventilation and advanced ventilation as well,” Chi said. “We estimate it at about $10 in materials just to print. Not only that, there are no custom components. It all can be built with office shelf things that you get at a local hardware store.”

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The ventilator isn’t just affordable, it requires no electricity. Chi says it runs by flow dynamics.

"The device has no electronics at all. There are two little valves that you can control the pressure which actually will translate to a certain volume that you deliver to the patient. There's also a rate valve that you can control rate," Chi, who specializes in trauma, said.

Manero’s team recently sent out 3D-printed pieces for 10 prototypes -- a significant achievement for the engineers at Limbitless Solutions.

"That grand vision is that hospitals around the country will have one more option to be able to support patients during surge events or natural disasters," Manero said.

A month ago the nonprofit started printing face shields to help with the shortage due to the coronavirus and now that they’re part of this medical advancement, Manero says the goal is to make it accessible to anyone.

"The big goal is to be able to create technology that can be like distributed and manufactured," Manero said. "That is the goal is to be able to have the technology, really be able to help people."

Chi says he’s already sent a request to the Federal Drug Administration.

"We're still awaiting FDA approval through the emergency use authorization and as soon as that approval goes through, we will be allowed to put these on patients," Chi said.

In the meantime, ten prototypes will be delivered to four military and academic hospitals throughout the country for evaluation.

“It seems almost too good to be true to have something that has no electronics that’s 3D-printed and it almost takes a leap of faith from the medical community in order to trust this device,” Chi said.

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