Charlotte Valve - Snorkeling Mask Mod for Ventilators
When maker Isinnova describes their Charlotte Valve as an "Easy COVID-19," they aren't making light of a global pandemic. They're making use - resourceful and noble use - of the Easybreath full-face snorkeling mask, modifying what was an innovative piece of underwater gear when it debuted in 2014 into an innovative CPAP-style mask hospitals can use to connect coronavirus patients to ventilators that help them breathe.
Isinnova, an Italian 3D-printing company, developed the Charlotte Valve after being contacted by Dr. Renato Favero from the Gardone Valtrompia Hospital. It was his idea to repurpose the Easybreath snorkeling mask in response to a possible shortage of hospital CPAP masks for emergency ventilation.
The standard Easybreath has a breathing valve positioned at the top, where it juts out of the water during snorkeling in a way that allows the user to breathe normally through both their nose and mouth, without biting down on a mouthpiece. You can read more about the Easybreath here.
The Charlotte Valve redesigns the Easybreath valve to hook up to a hospital ventilator, essentially creating the same type of full mouth and nose access to airflow for the patient. The Easybreath Snorkeling Mask is part of Decathlon's SUBEA underwater line, and the company willingly passed along their CAD drawings of the mask so Isinnova could study its construction, and then fashion and 3D print the Charlotte Valve.
The Charlotte Valve prototype has been tested successfully (by a healthy person) in the Chiari Hospital, but Isinnova stresses it should be used only in "a full-blown difficult situation," or when officially sanctioned medical supplies are not available. Any patient using an Easybreath fitted with a Charlotte Valve would need to sign a declaration accepting they're using an uncertified biomedical device.
Still, the potential for the Charlotte Valve is hopeful, and to keep it that way Isinnova patented their design under the specification that it is to remain free to use. Anyone can access the valve's CAD files and 3D print their own. Isinnova is sharing links to the Charlotte Valve files on their website.
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