Can Car Parts Save Lives?

This year, most people have likely heard about ventilators made from automobile parts. Sourcing ventilator prototypes at least partially from unconventional sources has become widespread. This is because those parts are cheaper and more readily available. The practice also serves to prevent shortages in the medical supply line.

Blower/automotive fan with wires and circuit board
Sub-assembly of our blower

RespiraWorks is one of the many ventilator-building projects making use of automotive and industrial supply lines. We can’t speak to the quality of all the devices being built out there. However, components sourced from the auto industry is the standard practice for many ventilator builds that emerged in response to the pandemic. From Tesla and other car companies to an all-girl engineering team in Afghanistan, these supply lines have proven more than useful.

While existing car companies have a leg up on manufacturing, other ventilator projects around the world benefit from car parts -both new and used. To some, it may seem post-apocalyptic that medical devices are being fashioned from used cars. However, in countries under served and low on resources, that tactic makes perfect sense. Their engineers should be given a nod for the innovation and imagination required to make medical device prototypes with little resources.

At RespiraWorks, we’re using the auto supply line to source parts that would otherwise be less available. Even if they were more accessible, it wouldn’t make sense to spend too much on each part, as we rely on grants and donations. Keeping costs low is what allows us to continue designing and testing prototypes. However, our emphasis is also on maintaining a high level of quality in our own designs. We believe this is possible without manufacturing devices that cost tens of thousands of dollars each.

Pinch-Valve Assembly
Pinch-valve assembly for blower-based design

Our design doesn’t simply involve sourcing parts and assembling them. Rather, our engineers are producing custom components, such as the custom-designed pinch valve, which is paired with an automotive/CPAP blower. This is a core component of our full-featured ventilator, which is uniquely composed of both custom-made, 3D-printed and injection molded parts, and some auto/industrial-sourced parts. Our blower-based design, along with others throughout the world, focuses on keeping patients alive without the need for compressed air. This is also an energy saving feature and less of a power drain for hospitals, compared to compression-based ventilation.

One of our core goals is to make a ventilator capable of providing long-term respiratory support for days or even weeks. This contrasts with a “bridge” ventilator, which is only meant to support a patient’s breathing for a few hours, until they’re (ideally) transferred to a more robust respiratory support system. Keep in mind efforts toward getting regulatory approval by various agencies throughout the world, and you’ll be sure to understand the many facets determining the importance of quality. In our experience thus far, integrating automotive components has not compromised that quality at all.

With consideration to low-costs and easy-to-reproduce designs, the auto parts industry has been a saving grace for new ventilator builds, including our own. Who knows, the next time you peruse an auto parts store or look under the hood of your car, you may even come across a component that could, with the proper engineering, save people’s lives.

Check us out on our website https://respira.works/
Or better yet, VOLUNTEER with us.
And be sure to follow us on social media:
Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter

This article was written by Shaina Elster, Content Creator for RespiraWorks

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COVID-19 has given the world a severe need for more medical ventilators, and RespiraWorks is working to meet that need.

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RespiraWorks

RespiraWorks

COVID-19 has given the world a severe need for more medical ventilators, and RespiraWorks is working to meet that need.

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