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In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Husky Corp. engineers designed a rapid-manufacture ventilator. 

The simple Husky ventilators can be produced inexpensively from readily available components, can be delivered at minimal cost, and can be used promptly with little operator training, according to the company.

Here is a short video clip showing how the Husky ventilator operates.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention: “How Can We Squeeze This Bag?”

Ventilators take over when a patient’s lungs don’t function or fail, which is a condition of those most aggressively affected by COVID-19. The pandemic has created a severe shortage of ventilators, which are often expensive.

The inspiration for the Husky ventilator came about when nurse anesthetist Nick Till asked his friend, Zach Holcomb, an engineering manager at Husky Corp., if he could think of ways to use manual resuscitator bags as stand-alone respirators.

“How can we automatically squeeze this bag?” prompted Holcomb and Husky Design Engineer Derek Willers to launch the project.

The result, a few days later, produced a ventilator apparatus using a standard size 1,500-milliliter resuscitator bag, compressed by a rubber ram attached to an air cylinder that is used in product testing applications.

The apparatus will deliver air or oxygen at adjustable flow rates appropriate for patients in need. Husky, designated essential as part of the Defense Industrial Base by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security during the Covid-19 outbreak, expects it will be able to produce some 500 ventilators weekly.

The Husky ventilator embodies the “necessity is the mother of invention” approach taken by U.S. industry in response to mobilization during World War II; equipment was made quickly and without a lot of ‘bells and whistles’ that would add time and cost, according to a company statement.

Next: Confirmation of Feasibility

The proof of concept for the Husky ventilator is composed of readily available components or those which could quickly be produced with a 3D printer. The key component is the air cylinder, operated by compressed air, to squeeze the resuscitation bag repeatably and reliably. It’s the same type of air cylinder used in the equipment Husky uses to test its fuel nozzles and components, which often require test cycles that number in excess of several hundred thousand or more without failure, according to the company.

The ventilator progressed from idea to proof of concept in about a week, with refinements and improvements already being added to enhance the programmable controls that adjust the flow rate and compression frequency with precision and ease.

Husky is seeking confirmation of the feasibility of the ventilator apparatus from a biomedical engineer, pulmonologist, respiratory therapist or similar medical expert before making the product available. In addition, the company is examining an electric version of the ventilator, rather than one that uses compressed air, for use in areas away from hospital rooms that do not have access to compressed air.

The company is exploring applications in which the ventilator could be deployed to third-world countries, where a low-cost ventilator would be potentially invaluable.

For more information, call Husky Corp. at 800-325-3558.