Manufacturing & Prototyping

University Engineer's COVID-19 Response: Open-Source Ventilator Design

As COVID-19 continues to place immense challenges on medical communities, one of the most pressing threats for hospitals across the country is a shrinking supply of ventilators. Vanderbilt University  researchers are currently on the second version of a ventilator prototype and hope to soon move into the final prototype phase before manufacturing. “Maker communities around the globe are stepping up to address the pressing medical challenges presented by COVID-19, such as the need for personal protection equipment like face masks,” says Vanderbilt engineer and project leader Kevin Galloway. In the first prototype, Galloway wrapped nylon webbing around an Ambu bag and attached it to the crank arm of a windshield wiper motor to apply the repetitive squeezing force. The design worked, but the amount of squeeze needed to be controlled more precisely. Inspired by the Scotch Yoke Mechanism, Galloway built his second prototype using the same motor, drawer glides, and plywood — widely available materials and tools. Sensors and controls were added to the design to improve the safety and tune the “in-and-out” ratio to match normal breathing. His longterm goal is to make the design publicly available so anyone can build it.