The boutique PC manufacturer Maingear has announced that it has retrofitted its factories to build ventilators rather than high-end PCs. The newly announced Maingear LIV is intended to be produced at scale at roughly a quarter of the cost of an emergency ventilator. Given that Maingear is headquartered 15 miles from New York City, the ongoing pandemic is a major concern.
Here’s how Maingear self-describes the product:
The Maingear Liv combines redundant power circuits, multiple safety features, and a unique coupling device which contains and drains exhaled aerosolized virus from the patient while allowing routine maintenance under severe conditions. Each unit has preset standard values for use by untrained personnel, as well as dedicated software which is controlled via touch screen interface, giving access to fine adjustments in addition to the manual regulation controls on the device. Working with its board of advisors, Maingear looks to garner support for fast FDA approval under these extreme circumstances.
Maingear CEO Wallace Santos took to YouTube to explain the product and discuss its features:
I’m going to list some features of the unit, but if I’m being honest, I don’t exactly have an encyclopedic knowledge of comparative ventilator mechanics. The Maingear Liv can begin providing oxygen within 1.5s and is capable of delivering between 40 percent and 100 percent O2. PEEP (Positive End Expiratory Pressure) is 0-14 cmH2O, while V2 will support 0-30 cmH2O. It can support 12-30 breaths per minute (V2: 45 BPM) and the first stage operating pressure ranges from 2.5 bar (min) to 8 bar (max) with an optimal 4 bar setting. The device also includes alarms for:
Low lung volume
Low flow of lung air
Low lung pressure
Difference between inspiratory and expiratory lung volume
Poor mechanical lung compliance
Absent or low pressure CO2 from main supply
Loss of electrical power
Maingear is hoping to make contact with healthcare providers and doctors who need ventilators and formed a Medical Advisory Board to guide its initial ventilator design. The company intends to ship internationally as soon as possible and is seeking rapid FDA approval for the new device.
It was clear once this situation began to escalate that something had to be done. Within days of assembling our team, we had our first prototype ventilator ready to go. Besides the lack of medical supplies and equipment, we think there will be a shortage of medical professionals who can operate these devices especially in field hospitals, so we also made it incredibly simple to use. Now we need help getting the word out to the appropriate people.
Demand for ventilators is expected to crest across the United States in the coming weeks, with many states forecasting urgent shortfalls and calling for aid from any quarter as they scale up the medical system to deal with the pandemic. I am completely unqualified to comment on the Maingear Liv’s design and the ongoing production difficulties across the global economy are going to make it more challenging to build just about anything, including ventilators.
What strikes me about this effort is that it’s the first OEM-led project I’ve heard of intended to provide relief at the human scale. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with the surge of support flowing into HPC and distributed computing projects to analyze COVID-19, but what Maingear is doing here will directly help individuals who might otherwise die without treatment. Obviously the ventilators need to be tested to make certain they perform as promised under trauma care conditions, but this is a noteworthy project for any company. More details on the Liv are available here.
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