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Abstract: The recent COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has brought to light, among other problems, a critical lack of mechanical ventilation devices in the intensive-care units worldwide. This is even more true in less-developed countries, whose national health systems suffer from an endemic difficulty in acquiring high-end medical devices. The OpenBreath project aims at addressing this problem by devising a low-cost, fully functional, open-source lung ventilator, easily manufacturable with off-the-shelf components and simple materials. This allows the ventilator to be quickly produced even in settings that lack the manufacturing capabilities of highly industrialized regions. The ventilator is based on the automation of a self-inflatable resuscitation device, a Bag-Valve-Mask (BVM). Therefore, the pneumatic component of the ventilator is embedded in the device, enabling stand-alone operation in critical contexts where pressurized hospital air is inaccessible. Sophisticated electronic controls, based on pressure and flow-rate sensors, enable the device to deliver all fundamental intensive-care ventilatory functions that commercial high-end hospital respirators possess. Full redundancy is ensured by design for both the mechanics and the electronics, making the ventilator fail-safe and reliable in the long term with minimal maintenance. Its simplicity of use and its robustness make the OpenBreath ventilator a perfect low-cost and reliable response to all those scenarios in which, due to environmental, economical or poor healthcare system conditions, additional mechanical ventilation is unavailable or impossible to provide with traditional methods.
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