Key weapon in battle against coronavirus can be made at home

Key weapon in battle against coronavirus can be made at home
Splitters fresh off the 3D printer, ready to be sent out to hospitals. Source: CNN
3 Min Read

Daily US Times: From his home in Washington state, Christian Parker has been working for weeks to save lives across the United States using a 3D printer and a blueprint for a small, Y-shaped piece of plastic, which could be a key weapon in battle against coronavirus.

Mr Parker has been under a stay-at-home order with his wife and three children since early March, as the United States tries to contain the virus. The virus has infected more than 700,000 people across the country.

Parker, a 3D-printing enthusiast was fascinated by stories of people in Italy using the technology to help manufacture protective items and equipment at a time when supplies of important medical gear are running low.

He said: “[I thought] if I’m sitting at home just tinkering with my 3D printers anyway, or they’re sitting idle, what can I do to jump in and help out where I can?”

Parker said he has produced at least 40 ventilator splitters for hospitals across the US in the past week. The simple plastic pipe can help stretch the capabilities of the country’s limited supply of ventilators by dividing the airflow from a single ventilator to multiple patients.

In the battle against coronavirus, ventilators have become a key weapon. The machines help patients breathe by pumping oxygen-rich air into the lungs while removing carbon dioxide.

The father of three said he originally bought a 3D printer for his children, age 1, 3, and 5, but when he watched his children to use it, he became more interested in the technology.

A y-shaped splitter which can be printed at home and then used in hospitals. Source: Jenny Lee

Eventually, he bought one for himself. Now he is part of a community of enthusiasts sharing designs and discussing creations online.

Parker’s online community has become a mini-manufacturing hub during the coronavirus outbreak.

Each ventilator splitter takes about an hour and 45 minutes to print. Parker and his fellow 3D printers have sent off hundreds of splitters to hospitals across the nation, and are discussing sending them around the world who needed it.

He said: “I think the biggest problem is that we’re all sitting at home and we all feel helpless, and then on top of that we hear about hospital shortages of PPE and ventilators … this is allowing me to feel like I’m contributing in some way.”

Splitters can be a simple solution to help as many patients as possible while there’s a shortage of ventilators, said Johns Hopkins University’s Helen Xun.

She and her team are on the run to develop a more advanced splitter, which will allow for greater control of the air supply. That could be an advantage in the battle against the virus.

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