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ITRI Unveils Taiwan’s First Medical Grade Ventilator Prototype

The first medical grade ventilator prototype locally made in Taiwan.

The first medical grade ventilator prototype locally made in Taiwan.

The growing number of severe COVID-19 patients is fueling the demand for ventilators to five to ten times of what’s available around the world. At the end of March, U.S. ventilator giant Medtronic shared the basic design specifications of its PB 560 portable ventilator, following which ITRI and its industrial partners have come together in an effort to develop Taiwan’s first medical grade ventilator prototype. The result has been completed in just 17 days, revealing Taiwan’s technology prowess to produce high-end medical equipment and aid the global community in countering the pandemic.

To turn an open source design into a real product, multiple resources and industries need to be put together. ITRI locally sourced more than 500 key components, involving engineering mechanisms, electronic controls, firmware, software, and data system integration. “Our past experience in rapid trial production has been proven crucial in developing Taiwan’s first medical grade ventilator prototype within 17 days,” said Dr. Chii-Wann Lin, ITRI’s Vice President and General Director of Biomedical Technology and Device Research Laboratories.

Key components of a ventilator.

Key components of a ventilator.

Dr. Lin further indicated three keys that ITRI has seized upon during the ventilator production project. The first is software: The team successfully interpreted the software program and functions of the Medtronic prototype. The second is system components: ITRI actively sought out components from the up-, mid-, and downstream industry chain, including microprocessors, sensors, fan motors, blowers, and masks, and even produced some items on its own via 3D printing. The third is system validation: To domestically produce the core components of the ventilator is the first step. Then the prototype will need to pass testing, calibration and validation.

ITRI President Edwin Liu commented that Taiwan used to rely on imports to satisfy its need for ventilators in intensive and critical care, but now Taiwan has its first ventilator prototype, in which ITRI plays an instrumental role. He pointed out that this has significant meaning on four fronts, namely: the early deployment of epidemic prevention resources; boosting opportunities for Taiwan industry in the high-end medical equipment market; establishing an ability in Taiwan to calibrate and verify quality ventilators; and highlighting Taiwan’s ability to assist the world in its ventilator needs, demonstrating the “Taiwan Helps” spirit.

It is expected that several manufacturers will participate in the scale-up production to demonstrate the outstanding flexibility and capability of Taiwan's supply chain. Together with industrial partners, the team will hope to meet the global demand of ventilators during the outbreak of pandemic.

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