WACO, TX — A team of local engineers has designed a low-cost, ventilation support system to help patients combatting COVID-19.
The team, led by L3Harris Technologies, delivered the Innovative Inspiratory Ideas (i3) Breather prototype in three weeks in response to the government’s Hack-A-Vent Innovation Challenge to rapidly develop solutions for ventilator availability and critical care requirements around the world.
The challenge requirements included a variety of respiratory, volume, pressure and humidity targets, and the solution’s ability to be assembled and operated by personnel using easily producible and widely available commercial off-the-shelf parts.
The i3 Breather design was developed after a five-day agile sprint design process modified for social distancing and remote participation.
The i3 Breather was one of five designs initially selected for next phase testing out of 172 submissions received from across the nation. Following the selection, the team says they worked around-the-clock to deliver the prototype.
The five prototype designs are currently undergoing testing for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The EUA review process allows the FDA to help strengthen public health protections against wide-ranging national threats by facilitating the availability and use during public health emergencies.
The i3 Breather team includes employees from L3Harris, a student from Baylor University, a member of Maker’s Edge Makerspace in Waco, Texas, and six physicians from Texas and California.
The company’s 3D printing capacity was increased by additional printers from Baylor University and Maker’s Edge Makerspace.
McLennan Community College in Waco also provided simulated compromised lung testing and guidance to support ventilator calibration.
“I am extremely proud and inspired by the i3 Breather team’s ability to develop a life-saving solution for a critical public health need in just three weeks,” said Sean Stackley, President, Integrated Mission Systems, L3Harris. “The result showcases their agility and innovative spirit and highlights the power of a government and industry partnership to combat a global crisis such as COVID-19.”