In more critical cases of the coronavirus, patients might need to be hooked up to a respirator to help them breathe. Shortage of respirator valves has never been an issue, but in places like Italy where the number of coronavirus cases are in the thousands, this has put an incredible amount of strain on the country’s healthcare system.
As such, hospitals are starting to run out of these life-saving respiratory valves, but thanks to the work of a group of volunteers, they have turned to the use of 3D printing where these valves are being made en masse and while being incredibly cheap, where each 3D printed valve is said to cost around $1, versus $11,000 which is how much it would have cost if bought from the manufacturer.
The volunteers had initially asked the manufacturer for access to the blueprints to the valve, but were turned down, and were in fact threatened by the company with a patent infringement lawsuit. However, according to the volunteers, this was done to help save lives and that they have no intention of distributing the drawings or making a profit from it.
One of the volunteers, a 3D printing expert and research and development designer at Lonati SpA, Michele Faini, he wrote in a post on Facebook (translated from Italian) saying, “[The patients] were people in danger of life, and we acted. Period. We have no intention of profit on this situation, we are not going to use the designs or product beyond the strict need for us forced to act, we are not going to spread the drawing.”