Dyson, the established household name when it comes to reliable vacuum cleaners, has pivoted its activity to help support coronavirus patients.
Considering that the UK has more than 11,600 confirmed COVID-19 infected people and that Boris Johnson, the UK’s Prime Minister, has just tested positive for a coronavirus infection, Dyson’s intervention is particularly welcome.
The company announced the CoVent, a new ventilator it designed in just 10 days, based on their existing digital motor technology.
While it’s still waiting for UK’s regulatory approval to start mass-producing the ventilators, the UK government already ordered 10,000 of the CoVent devices to be given to the National Health Service (NHS).
The CoVent is a portable, bend-mounted ventilator that can also run on battery power in the event of power outages.
“Since I received a call from Boris Johnson ten days ago, we have refocused resources at Dyson, and worked with TTP, The Technology Partnership, to design and build an entirely new ventilator, The CoVent.
This new device can be manufactured quickly, efficiently and at volume. It is designed to address the specific clinical needs of Covid-19 patients, and it is suited to a variety of clinical settings.
The core challenge was how to design and deliver a new, sophisticated medical product in volume and in an extremely short space of time.
The race is now on to get it into production,” said James Dyson, the company’s head, in an internal email obtained by Fast Company.
In Italy, 3D-printed ICU valves helped patients get a second chance at life, helping the medical system during an unprecedented disruption of medical supply chains around the world.
British technology company Dyson has designed a ventilator and is primed to produce 15,000 units in the coming weeks to help meet the demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Named CoVent, the ventilator was developed by the company in only 10 days, after Dyson was among the manufacturers contacted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to help bolster the National Health Service's supply of ventilators.
According to the government, the NHS needs to increase its number of ventilator from 8,175 to 30,000. They are needed in order to accommodate the expected number of Covid-19 patients, who in severe cases of the disease rely on the ventilators to breathe.
Dyson to supply 10,000 units to NHS
Given regulatory approval, which Dyson expects to be granted by Friday, 10,000 units could be supplied to the UK government.
The company's founder James Dyson explained in an email to staff that he would donate a further thousand to the country himself, while 4,000 will be donated abroad.
Rather than gaining permission to reproduce a proprietary design, the company worked with the medical device company The Technology Partnership (TTP) to create the product from the ground up.
"The core challenge was how to design and deliver a new, sophisticated medical product in volume and in an extremely short space of time," Dyson wrote.
The final design utilises Dyson's existing digital motor, while engineers drew on their "air purifier expertise" to devise the filtration and air flow system.
"Race is now on to get it into production"
The CoVent is battery-powered, portable and can easily be mounted to a patient's bed, making it suitable for a range of different clinical settings.
"This new device can be manufactured quickly, efficiently and at volume," Dyson wrote. "The race is now on to get it into production."
The government is reportedly testing the viability of the prototype, along several others in collaboration with clinicians.
While Dyson has designed a device from scratch, the Airbus-led consortium Ventilator Challenge UK is set to supplement the production of existing ventilator models pending the go-ahead from regulators.
The government has also placed orders with existing medical device manufacturers such as Inspiration Healthcare, that have a small-scale but shorter turnaround time than manufacturers usually geared towards other products.
The shortage of ventilators is far from restricted to the UK. In the US, Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, as well as car manufacturers General Motors and Ford are investigating how they could help bolster the supply.