One of the few bright spots in the COVID-19 crisis are all the people volunteering to help strangers. In Connecticut, engineering consultant Robert Conley, owner of Interactive CAD Solutions, just designed a product he paradoxically hopes no one will ever have to use.

Collaborating with Manchester Memorial Hospital and a local 3D printing firm, Conley recently designed the Ventilator Quad Splitter, a device that would allow one ventilator to support the breathing of four patients. (You can watch his prototype device be tested in this video by pulmonologist Saud Anwar, who attempts to stretch it to inflate balloons simulating the lungs of seven people.)

The Ventilator Quad Splitter was designed as a last resort in a catastrophic scenario where there are many more patients than breathing machines. (Image courtesy of Interactive CAD Solutions)

Conley acknowledges that multiple medical organizations, including the American Society of Anesthesiologists, condemn the use of ventilator splitters because sharing ventilators “cannot be done safely with current equipment.” However, he counters that his device is only meant to be used in a worst-case scenario. Similar splitters are now being tested by hospitals in South Carolina and Maine.

“This would be used as a last resort if there are mass casualties in the time of a war or epidemic,” Conley says. “Hospitals can download the CAD model and print it out in four hours. It’s worth trying to save as many lives as we possibly can.”

Conley, who used Onshape to modify his designs with Dr. Anwar on his tablet during initial testing at the hospital, says he is also contributing to other COVID-19 efforts in his spare time, including an open-source ventilator project and the development of a hand-sanitizing device using UV light.

“It’s amazing to see all these companies stepping up to help right now,” he adds. “I want to be part of that.”

Onshape’s COVID-19 Response Support Program

Design engineer Jordan Elevons is designing a 3D-printed respirator meant to be an emergency substitute for N95 masks when they are unavailable. (Courtesy photo)

These are unprecedented times and the engineering and manufacturing community – from open-source projects and startup companies to the world’s biggest corporations – is stepping forward to help find solutions.

In that spirit, PTC is offering free use of its Onshape product development platform for qualifying projects that address emergency needs. Onshape’s online CAD, data management and collaboration tools were built for remote teams working in different locations. It’s possible to equip design teams of any size (1-1000 contributors) instantly worldwide on any device.

Initial COVID-19 response projects that Onshape is supporting include:

  • – This nonprofit collaborative project is mobilizing top talent in medicine, technology and academia, to design and build safe, durable, reusable and sanitizable medical protective personal equipment (PPE) for hospitals. The first focus is turning snorkel masks into durable PPE masks using medical-grade filters and 3D printed parts.

  • PulmoLogic – This team consists of medical device professionals with experience in regulatory, biomedical engineering, and manufacturing who have come together to provide rapidly scalable medical device solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company intends to partner with existing medical device, manufacturing, and clinical firms, where possible, to accelerate its response and multiply its potential impact fighting COVID-19. Their first initiative focuses on developing and producing the ClipVent emergency ventilator (pictured at the top of this blog).

  • The Pandemic Ventilator Project – A collaboration between engineers and medical practitioners, this team is building a simple and robust open-source library of ventilator designs that anyone in ventilator-deficient communities can source and build locally – either in industrial manufacturing facilities or by hand. They are providing engineering, technical, and supply chain support to get designs off the screen and into hospitals.

  • Rich Brilliant Willing – This Brooklyn-based manufacturer of decorative LED lighting is retooling its facilities in New York and New Jersey to make 14,000 face shields for first responders and medical personnel. The company contributed to a new design of the Budmen face shield that reduces the material by 48 percent. This design improvement will now enable manufacturers to produce twice as many face shields using the same resources. They are also looking to offer their engineering services to a ventilator design project.

  • Elevons COVID-19 Respirator – Design engineer Jordan Elevons is creating a 3D-printed respirator using cotton pads as a filter. His open-source design is meant to be used as an emergency replacement for N95 masks. Elevons is seeking a medical partner for testing.

What’s the Criteria for Project Support?

Free time-limited subscriptions to Onshape will be considered for projects that:

  • Provide a solution contributing to the treatment or research of COVID-19
  • Address a coronavirus-related problem impacting a community
  • Make their product design open-source (public) for the greater good
  • Are not created for profit

Onshape may also provide consulting services, training and technical support for selected projects.

If you’d like to partner with Onshape on a qualifying project – or if you are a current Onshape customer who would like to be matched to a project – please get in touch with us here.

During the pandemic, PTC is also offering free use of Vuforia Chalk, a productivity app that leverages augmented reality to enable offsite and on-site employees for collaborative operation, maintenance, and repair products of all kinds. It’s like a more powerful Facetime for industrial settings and it’s as easy to set up and use. Watch the video below to see how it works:


For more details on Vuforia Chalk, click here.