Research team at Brown creates 3D ventilator blueprints


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Researchers at Brown University have created a 3D print design that will put ventilator manufacturing into the hands of others.

Professor Dan Harris and his research team created the design as part of the “Code Life Ventilator Challenge” which launched at McGill University in Montreal.

Harris said he routinely makes his 3D print designs of custom-made tools and devices, commonly used in fluid dynamics experiments, available to other researchers, so participating in the competition was a no-brainer.

“This was naturally within that spirit,” Harris said. “I believe that to make things progress in science, whether it’s health or our own fluids research, that we should be collaborating globally.”

The purpose of the challenge is to spark an international effort to address potential ventilator shortages due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the hope of making the ventilator’s design and it’s components freely available online for anyone to download build their own.

Brown University’s 3D print design, dubbed the “BrunO2” is among the top 65 designs. More than 1,000 designs were submitted.

Harris said what makes their design unique is that it’s not only simple to build and easy to use, but is built entirely out of readily available parts.

He said the medical experts on his team were able to determine what ventilator functions COVID-19 patients would need the most. With this knowledge, the team’s engineers stripped the ventilator down to those parameters.

“Traditional ventilators are used for all kinds of conditions and all kinds of patients, so they have lots of settings and modes,” Harris said. “By having the medical advisers on our team, we were able to streamline the requirements that we would need for our device.”

Harris said while their design wasn’t chosen to be in the top 10, they plan on continuing to refine it. The team is actively exploring how the design can be used in Rhode Island.

“All we want to do is be able to share our design with someone who can save lives,” Harris said.

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