3D printed emergency ventilation system with integrated electronics and sensors

What is the need?

The experiences with the development of the pandemic have shown that a case of emergency may occur quickly with a lack of available high-tech ventilators for patients requiring artificial respiration. For example, physicians in Italian hospitals had to decide by triage which patients will be treated using a life-saving ventilation system and which patients will not be treated this way. For this reason, the objective arose to develop a prototype for a 3D printed emergency ventilation system within a week.

How was the problem solved?

Within seven days, a prototype was developed for an emergency ventilation system. This prototype was then manufactured by a 3D printer using a biocompatible and steam sterilizable plastic material.

The system was developed in collaboration with Prof. Dirk Winkler, who is the Deputy Director of the Clinic and Polyclinic for Neurosurgery of Leipzig University of Medicine and who possesses extensive experience as an emergency doctor. First, a computer-aided design model (CAD) was developed in order to virtually simulate the kinematics. Subsequently, the virtual model was printed using a 3D printer. Finally, the electronics and sensors were integrated.

What is available now?

The prototype of a 3D printed emergency ventilation system has been realized based on a biocompatible and steam sterilizable plastic material. Electronics and sensors have been integrated in order to set and monitor the essential parameters of the mechanical ventilation. The system alerts the clinical users in case of an interruption. Using a lung phantom, physicians have tested the system successfully under realistic conditions.

Where and how can the solution be applied?

If there is a lack of high-tech ventilation systems in hospitals, these emergency ventilation systems shall be available to the physicians as a last resort. This newly developed system is not a certified medical product. Therefore it shall serve as the last option. However, the working group “Next3D” of Leipzig University of Medicine and Fraunhofer IWU is certified according to the Medical Engineering Standard ISO13485. This means that “Next3D” has the permission to produce and put into circulation patient-specific 3D printed medical instruments and models, which are regarded as custom-made products according to the Medical Devices Act.

The production of the ventilation system is only performed under the direction of “Next3D” itself in order to ensure the verification of each individual device in terms of system safety.

Who are the contact persons?

  • Contact for technical issues: Dr. Ronny Grunert, Fraunhofer IWU, University Leipzig
  • Contact for clinical questions: Prof. Dr. med. Dirk Winkler, Deputy Director of the Clinic and Polyclinic for Neurosurgery of Leipzig University of Medicine, Phone: 0341 9717510, EMail: dirk.winkler@medizin.uni-leipzig.de

Who has supported this development as a partner?

  • Partner of cooperation: research group “Next3D“ of the Medical Faculty of Leipzig University, Leipzig University and Westsächsische Hochschule Zwickau (Zwickau University of Applied Sciences)
  • Industrial partners: Hewlett Packard with global 3D printing network and Schicktanz GmbH Sohland/Spree
  • Network Biosaxony

To whom is the special thanks?

All electronics and engines were organized and privately funded within 24 hours. The consumable supplies for the 3D printing were provided by Leipzig University.