A group of Italian volunteers distributed 3D-printed versions of a pivotal medical device to an Italian hospital battling with the COVID-19 outbreak.
Cristian Fracassi and Alessandro Romaioli used their 3D printer to make unofficial copies of a patented valve that was lacking in the hospitals throughout Italy.
According to some, the device maker threatened to sue the men for infringement.
However, in another interview, Romaioli denied receiving any threats and explained that the company refused releasing their design files and thus, they reverse engineered the valve.
Romaioli consulted an operator who said he couldn’t give him the files. However, they didn’t receive any threats at all.
Company Doesn’t Release Design Files, but NO Threats Were Made
The files couldn’t be released because they’re company property. Even though there’ve been claims that the valve costs more than $11,000, Fracassi said this number wasn’t correct.
The volunteers from the Isinnnova 3D printing business made 100 devices on their printer after one hospital needed them urgently.
The hospital is located in Brescia, a city in Lombardy which is the center of the outbreak with 250 patients in ICU who need breathing machines.
These essential valves connect the patients with the respiratory machines and each can be used for 8 hours.
Reportedly, the 3D printed devices were made within 3 hours. When they were told the devices were tested and worked well, they ran back to their offices to print new ones.
Helping Hospitals Meeting the Rising Demand
Isinnova will now collaborate with Lonati, another local 3D printer company to make sure there are enough valves for respiratory machines.
Some claim that the original manufacturer sold the valve for more than $10,000 while the 3D printed version apparently costs around a dollar.
The death toll in Italy from the COVID-19 has surpassed 2,500 and the number of confirmed cases is higher than 30,000.
The Manufacturers’ Statement about the Threat Claims
The company that has the patent to the valve, Intersurgical, said they have no intentions of suing anyone.
They confirmed that they were contacted for details on the valve but they couldn’t release them due to manufacturing regulations.
They said they’re doing their best to supply the hospitals struggling at this time and have even done it free of charge.
They claim it’s disappointing that such information is circulating. Their goal as a company is to help those in need of these and other essentials devices.
Romaioli and Temporelli explained that both of the devices serve a purpose- the official and original one is a better long-term decision; however, for the time being, hospitals can also use the alternative to meet the drastic demand.