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UF experts collaborate to design a DIY ventilator for COVID-19 crisis

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UF experts are teaming up with others to design a ventilator people can build in case the machines are needed during the COVID-19 pandemic. In these images from video, components are demonstrated in the lab. Photo: UF

Imagine teams of volunteers building ventilators, with each team member assigned a job. One does the pipes. One does the electronics. One loads the software.

Then they put it all together and, voila, a ventilator.

This is possible, thanks to anesthesiology professor Sem Lampotang  and his team of open source collaborators at UF and around the world.

Lampotang is an inventor with numerous medical patents. He designed a commercial ventilator years ago. 

He says the engineering for this project is rigorous. The difference is anyone can get the parts, including PVC pipes and sprinkler valves.

“The concept is a proven design,” Lampotang said. “What is not proven is using — I’m laughing a bit — is using Home Depot parts.”

The ventilator includes a circuit board to control the pressure and rate of respiration. The computer code and design are posted on the website for UF’s Center for Safety, Simulation and Advanced Learning Technologies.

It’ll take a few hours to build. Then the volunteers must test the machine.

“And then when the unit they build they are happy meets the specifications, they take it to the hospital,” Lampotang said.

His team planned to complete its assembly of the open source respirator on Friday and begin full-assembly testing right away.

Lampotang has no assurances but assumes the FDA may allow the ventilator on an emergency basis to save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.