3D Printing During COVID-19: More Information on ISINNOVA 3D Printed Connectors for CPAP Masks


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In the recently published ‘3D Printing beyond Dentistry during COVID 19 Epidemic: A Technical Note for Producing Connectors to Breathing Devices,’ Italian researchers describe a new device which could prove to be indispensable during extremely challenging times for everyone in the medical industry—not to mention those who are ill or who may have lost loved ones to the viral pandemic.

The need for ventilators has been highly publicized around the world during to the Coronavirus outbreak, leaving medical scientists to turn to 3D printing for additional resources. The authors state that as of March 28th, 2020, there were 26,676 patients in the hospital left without mechanical ventilation, with another 39,533 recovering at home. Many needed spontaneous ventilation devices that simply were not available.

Due to the lack of necessary equipment, and the urgent need for respiratory devices, Dr. Eng. C. Fracassi, an Italian engineer, created a new continuous positive airways pressure (CPAP) design, replacing the respiratory tube with a plastic support that can be used with medical oxygen supply pipes. The design is basically made with an Easybreath snorkeling face mask that can easily be converted into a CPAP design with two 3D printed connection pieces.

Italian company ISINNOVA of Brescia, Italy has now released the .stl files for free online so that others can fabricate ventilation devices easily. The rest of the system is comprised of the following:

  • Oxygen source
  • Venturi valve
  • Dave valve (connected to inspiratory tube and reservoir)
  • Connector tube
  • Charlotte valve (connected to inspiratory and expiratory branches of the breathing circuit)
  • Face mask
  • Filter
  • Positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) valve

Dr. Fracassi highlights 3D printing at its finest with this work, taking advantage of the ability to work affordably and with all the latitude required to innovate and edit, coming up with an extremely important design that could make recuperation much easier for many Coronavirus patients at home.

The 3D printed devices are considered ‘non-certified biomedical devices for compassionate care,’ and it cannot be stressed enough that they must be made with medical-grade materials to avoid any sort of reaction from toxicity otherwise. Before use, ‘application of an information procedure’ must be completed and the patient must offer consent.

“Because of Covid-19, hospitals are urgently requesting breathing devices; groups of volunteers working in research centers, companies, individuals and among them also dentists and dental technicians have joined together to quickly create 3D printing fittings,” stated the authors.

“3D printing companies act as central hubs connecting makers and hospitals in need by crowdsourcing a list of professional additive manufacturing (AM) providers who have suitable 3D printers. Dentists and dental laboratories who are willing to making available their experience, facilities and machinery for the fight against the coronavirus can sign up here.

Workflow consists of importing the .stl file to 3D printing software.

STL file of “Charlotte” valve (made available by ISINNOVA srl.).

STL file of “Dave” valve (made available by ISINNOVA srl.).

“Charlotte” and “Dave” valves leaning on the printer terminal plate.

Supports are created, and then 3D printing ensues for a little over five hours, with the following settings:

  • Density: 1.00
  • Size of the contact points: 0.90
  • Internal supports: on
  • Spacing from the plane: 5.00
  • Inclination multiplier: 1.00
  • Height above the base: 5.00
  • Base thickness: 2.00
  • Layer thickness: 0.1 mm
  • Print time: 5 h 15 min
  • Layers: 932
  • Volume: 60.52 mL

Printed vales external and internal vision.


The parts must be cleaned with a disinfectant solution, with valves then stored in sterilized tubing and ready for delivery.

Insertion of “Charlotte” valve to the mask.

“Dental professionals have a deep awareness of digital workflow for 3D printing, since the use of it to build dental models, fixed prostheses, full-arch implant supported rehabilitation and others is nowadays routine in the daily dental practice,” concluded the authors. “Volunteer dental professionals can contribute to creating printed plastic valves, adapting the dental digital workflow and converting snorkeling masks in emergency CPAP devices.

“The role of the dentist and the dental laboratory is only limited to making available their experience, facilities and machinery for helping doctors and patients, even way beyond dentistry.”

3D printed medical devices are being created often, from implants and orthopedics to prosthetics and diagnostic devices, but with the Coronavirus pandemic we see even further usefulness for digital fabrication in medicine—along with an increased sense of urgency. What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

[Source / Images: ‘3D Printing beyond Dentistry during COVID 19 Epidemic: A Technical Note for Producing Connectors to Breathing Devices’]

Note: Isinnova’s Charlotte Valve: The “Charlotte valve” is a 3D-printed adapter that converts a Decathlon snorkel mask into a CPAP mask for sub-intensive therapy by connecting to CPAP machines or wall oxygen. This was meant to address shortages of CPAP masks at an Italian hospital. It may be a safe and sufficient solution for CPAP replacement but is not a solution for ventilator supply issues.

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