Politecnico and Whirlpool Corporation join forces against the COVID-19 emergency

Two open source devices designed to be fast and easy to produce: a mechanical ventilator and a PPE mask

The Politecnico di Milano and Whirlpool Corporation have developed two useful devices to help in the fight against COVID-19: a simple, inexpensive mechanical ventilator and a 3D face shield. Both will soon be available as open source designs to be used by anyone who needs to produce them quickly.

Breath4U is a simple, inexpensive mechanical respirator for use in pre-intensive care units that could be helpful to hospitals in a new health emergency.

It is lightweight and easy to install and its simple parts are available on the market even during a lockdown. The cost of making one is very reasonable.

Breath4U uses a self-expanding bag (‘ambu’) that is automatically compressed by two motorised clamps that apply controlled pressure. A plastic tube connects the ambu to a breathing mask. The doctor or healthcare provider can set the respiration parameters using a graphical interface.

After assembly, the prototype was tested in TechRes, the Politecnico di Milano’s Laboratory of Respiration Technologies, with a device that emulates a patient’s lungs. Some sample devices are now in the testing stage at the Fondazione Poliambulanza Brescia, the Santa Maria della Misericordia Hospital in Perugia and the Hospital of Macerata.

The production of the PPE mask started with a series of open source blueprints using 3D printers. The Politecnico team gradually overhauled the mask’s design; then the final product obtained EC certification under current standards.

The close cooperation between Politecnico di Milano and Whirlpool, which recently signed a framework agreement to do research on projects of mutual interest, brought together two different skill sets to achieve excellent results in a short time.