What is COVID-19?
According to the CDC the COVID-19 disease, or coronavirus disease 2019, is a “respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.” While its symptoms may be mild for some, the virus can severely affect the elderly, the immunocompromised, and those with preexisting respiratory conditions. This virus is dangerous in that most carriers remain asymptomatic for a substantial amount of time (as much as two weeks) – during which the virus can still be transmitted to others. With such a large influx of infected patients, hospitals and healthcare facilities around the world are becoming overloaded and cannot sustain the level of healthcare needed to fight this disease. Many hospitals only have a few ventilators available, which are necessary to support the respiratory system while your body combats this disease.
For more information, go to https://endcoronavirus.org/ – we’ve found this to be an extremely helpful website with daily updates on COVID-19, case maps, family, business, and government guidelines, as well as different ways everyone can do their part in these unprecedented times.
How can machinists, engineers, makers, and other people like us help?
- Take a break from reading this and wash your hands – but don’t forget to come back to read the rest
- Share awareness around efforts to mobilize resources, including manufacturing and machining.
We will be updating this page with resources and projects. Please contact us to submit suggested page additions.
How do the stay-at-home orders, quarantines, and business shutdowns affect manufacturing?
“The Critical Manufacturing Sector is crucial to the economic prosperity and continuity of the United States. A direct attack on or disruption of certain elements of the manufacturing industry could disrupt essential functions at the national level and across multiple critical infrastructure sectors.” Jay Pierson provided us a link to the DHS page which lists businesses that are allowed to stay open during a national event. Aerospace, machinery and vehicle manufacturing, and the related companies that support them, will be exempt from closure however increased cleaning, personal hygiene practices and teleworking for office staff is still highly recommended: https://www.cisa.gov/critical-
Many manufacturing businesses are also retooling to provide aid during this outbreak. The PREP Act affords immunity from lawsuits in times of national emergency, and will protect those designing, manufacturing, or distributing products to aid in combating COVID-19 from predatory lawsuits. Take the steps to protect yourself now – you can read more here, or view this PDF for more information.
Open Source Ventilator Design (University of Minnesota and TEKNIC)
Take a look at the resources below about an open source ventilator design from the University of Minnesota and TEKNIC (manufacturer of ClearPath servos):
Below is an email from Bridgette God of TEKNIC discussing the plans for a cheap, easy to manufacture ventilator design that is open-source (any hospital or medical facility can create or modify to their own needs and resources!)
Thanks so much for taking my call today. We’re trying to move pretty quickly and simultaneously gain support for the design in case we need to call on machinists for help with producing different parts moving forward.
There is a lot of information regarding the project in the descriptions of the three videos Teknic has posted so far. As a summary, the goal is to keep the open-source design as inexpensive, easy to build, and reliable as possible for an emergency ventilator. A lot of the parts can be 3D printed, and we’re using ClearPath in our own designs, but we’ve designed the machine so that any motor like a stepper, AC induction, DC brush or something can be used in its place so that anyone can help manufacture these.
It would be very helpful if you could get the word out to your audience about the project. There is a very real possibility that we will have to call upon many machinists to help mass produce these parts. At this point, I’m not yet certain if we will definitely need help producing these parts (i.e. we might not end up needing to contact them or at least not right away) or what parts we will need specifically and how many, but we were hoping that maybe you could get the word out in advance just in case. That way if we do end up needing to reach out to machinists for parts, we will have a bunch of volunteers ready.
If you could post a quick, unedited (quality does not matter – you could do it on your cellphone) video just alerting your viewers about the project and get that information out so they can see the application on Teknic’s YouTube channel (as an idea, link to the Teknic videos in your video’s description), that would be much appreciated. Basically, we would just want machinists ready if we need to call upon them for help. I think at some point, if the need arises, we would probably make a public post requesting help and how to do that and it will be beneficial to have an audience that is already aware of what’s going on, ready to spring into action.
One thing that is important to note is that under no circumstances should people to start making this machine to operate on their own (we’ve gotten a few comments already for people wanting to build these for relatives since the design is open-source). The machines are designed to be used only by highly trained medical operators in emergency situations. Building and using one of the machines without proper training could cause serious harm or death.
Please let me know if you have any questions and thank you again! Best of luck with everything moving forward with Ohio’s shutdown.
Links to Teknic videos:
Bridgette God | OEM Applications Engineer
TEKNIC INC | “Manufacturer of the ClearPath Integrated Servo Motor”
Also take a look at this Reddit thread, detailing and discussing a bit more about the project.
The FDA recently issued a letter to Health Care Providers, entitled Ventilator Supply Mitigation Strategies. In this letter, the FDA states:
“Where possible, health care facilities should use FDA-cleared conventional/standard full-featured ventilators to treat patients who develop respiratory failure or respiratory insufficiency. However, FDA is taking steps to help make available ventilatory support devices that are not currently legally marketed in the U.S. to support the wider availability of devices for patients in need of ventilatory support in the United States for the duration of the public health emergency, as described in the Enforcement Policy for Ventilators guidance.”
The purpose of this letter is to set clear guidelines as to how a) existing ventilators should be used, b) allow for non-FDA cleared modifications to be made to existing ventilators in this emergency situation (likely for situations like this, where one ventilator can be modified to treat multiple people instead of just one), and c) to allow the use of “alternative devices capable of delivering breaths or pressure support” such as the ventilators being designed and manufactured in the project above. You can read the full letter here.
What is Project Open Air?
Project Open Air is a community run crowdsourcing project to get engineers, medical professional, makers and and the like together to design an open-source ventilator system to solve the problem stated above, which we were made aware of via this post on our forum. Currently over 2500 people have joined the project to be a “Helpful Engineer” as the Project Open Air folks are calling them. You can read more about the project at projectopenair.org or by reading this document.
Plastics Fabricators Needed to Manufacture “Aerosol Block”
Hospitals are now asking for Aerosol Blocks to be made – a clear plastic shield that covers a patients head while being intubated. This device protects medical professionals from aerosolized and possibly infected particles from coming into contact with them during the process, and is fairly straightforward to manufacture. You can read more here.
US Army Corps of Engineers Contracting
The US Army Corps of Engineers is seeing an influx of prospective contractors to provide aid during this time. If you think you could help, take a look at this Twitter thread detailing the process to become a USACE contractor. Here you can register your businesses capabilities and they will determine if and how you can best provide aid as a contractor.
General Motors Partners with Ventilator Manufacturer
General Motors found themselves shutting down plants nationwide last week, with Ford and FCA doing the same. While businesses across the US start closing their doors as county, state, and national leaders urge citizens to practice social distancing and self quarantine if necessary, GM plans to use the downtime to bring aid to those suffering from the virus. While their own factories are shut down, GM is working closely with medical device company Ventec Life Systems to streamline and increase their ventilator production. While not actually retooling their own manufacturing lines to create ventilators, GM aims to lend their expertise in industrial systems engineering to find untapped efficiencies in Ventec’s process. Both manufacturers believe that this partnership will save lives by catching up to the rapidly increasing demand for respirators in hospitals.
Formula 1 to Begin Ventilator Production
Formula 1 is another entity being hit hard by the virus with multiple races being postponed indefinitely or cancelled outright. The current season has been suspended until at least June 7, leaving numerous engineering facilities vacant and unused. The majority of F1 teams hope to increase production of ventilators in this downtime, with Formula One vowing to “provide as much help and assistance as we can.”