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COVID-19: new 3D printed device could address shortage of ventilators

Published on April 7, 2020 by Carlota V.
3d printed ventilator

The Belgian company Materialise has developed a new solution to cope with COVID-19, and that solution is the Materialise NIP Connector. It converts standard equipment available in most hospitals into a non-invasive PEEP mask (NIP) that can be connected to an oxygen supply. Ventilators are one of the pieces of medical equipment in shortage in many hospitals around the world. Nevertheless, they are crucial in keeping COVID-19 patients breathing. The 3D printed connector developed by Materialise can keep together a non-invasive ventilation (NIV) mask, a filter and a PEEP valve to facilitate breathing for patients. The solution is simple and familiar to use for medical professionals who will be able to easily assemble their non-invasive ventilation solution by themselves.

Today, additive manufacturing players are looking for alternatives to the mechanical ventilators that help critically ill patients breathe. The lack of devices is being severely felt in the medical sector. This is why Materialise has developed its 3D printed connector. A small device that can provide oxygen while creating positive pressure in the lungs. With this new solution, mechanical ventilators could be attributed to those in extremely critical condition. The Belgian company hopes to supply this connector to hospitals by mid-April.

The 3D printed connector from Materialise connects a NIV mask, a PEEP valve and a filter together to facilitate breathing for COVID-19 patients | Image via Materialise 

A 3D printed oxygen mask thanks to a connector

Materialise explains that its priority is to ensure everyone’s safety, whether it be that of the nursing staff or the patient. This is why many tests have been carried out with the help of pulmonologists and specialists. Professor Wilfried de Baker, an expert in pneumology, explains that one of the positive points of the connector is that there are no gaps through which the virus could spread in its environment. It also provides the positive expiratory pressure that pushes fluids into the lungs and thus facilitates the absorption of oxygen. The Materialise NIP Connector is 3D printed on Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) machines and production will take place at the company’s ISO 13485 certified facilities in Belgium and Plymouth.

Brigitte De Vet, Vice President of Materialise Medical, added: “3D printing is playing a crucial role in fighting the global coronavirus pandemic by making it possible to develop innovative solutions and have them available worldwide very quickly. At the same time, it is crucial that the medical products we put on the market are safe and effective. Materialise has decades of experience in certified medical 3D printing which allows us to bring 3D printed devices to the market quickly and safely.”

The connector was 3D printed on an SLS machine | Image via Materialise

The Belgian company explains that it is currently accelerating the regulatory registration of the connector in Europe and the United States. It is also conducting a clinical trial to test the impact of its use on COVID-19 patients: results are expected within the next two weeks. Find more information HERE.

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