University of Sydney builds ventilator to fight COVID-19

5 May 2020
The University of Sydney and NSW Health Infrastructure have partnered to develop a simple, low-cost ventilator solution using modern design tools and 3-D printing technology.

Using an army of people power and 3-D printing technology, the device has quickly gone from concept to working prototype.

A multidisciplinary team of academics and students from the University of Sydney is leading a collaboration with NSW Health Infrastructure to produce a simple, low cost ventilator solution to assist the COVID-19 effort.

The “CoVida” ventilator is based on proven ventilator technology with an updated control system. University students and academics have helped to create the first prototype using modern design tools and 3-D printing in a matter of weeks.

The ventilators have been developed to provide NSW with additional ventilator capacity if required as part of the COVID-19 response.

The team, led by the Head of School of Biomedical Engineering, Professor Gregg Suaning, comprises academics and students from the Faculty of Engineering, the Faculty of Medicine and Health, and the School of Architecture, Design and Planning.

The University of Sydney and NSW Health Infrastructure have partnered to develop a simple, low-cost ventilator solution

Professor Suaning said the University of Sydney, in collaboration with NSW Health Infrastructure, embarked on a project to build the “CoVida FC100” to address the urgent issue of providing additional ventilator capacity.

“This initiative aims to deliver a ‘shelf-ready’ solution that can be rapidly-manufactured if required for front-line use in the fight against COVID-19,” Professor Suaning said.

“Our team has engineered the system based on a trusted Australian design that was commonplace in the healthcare system in the 1990s. We have used rapid prototyping technologies, including 3D-printing to produce the first prototype devices, which we hope will offer renewed hope of addressing the potential strains on our healthcare system,” Professor Suaning said.

Professor Christopher Peck from the Faculty of Medicine and Health has been linking project collaborators within and outside the University.

“We are working hard with Health Infrastructure to develop an innovative ventilator solution which could be manufactured quickly should additional ventilator capacity be required for COVID-19 patient care.”

Faculty of Medicine and Health PhD candidate, Claire Bridges, who joined the University of Sydney from Boston University in 2018, said it was inspirational seeing the hundreds of students, academics, and industry professionals come together to “raise the line” of the state's healthcare capacity.

University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Michael Spence said the rapid and collaborative response of the University’s academics and students, government and industry partners showed what was possible when focusing on responses to pressing problems.

“Using people power and the ingenuity of our academics and students, we have drawn on our collaborative Westmead model to get this cost-effective, straightforward and robust ventilator solution ready,” said Dr Spence

“It’s not the usual route for R&D but it’s clearly outcomes-focused and could, we believe, be a model in how to make an impact on the big issues.”

Health Infrastructure Chief Executive Rebecca Wark acknowledged the response from the higher education sector, which has seen the prototype ventilators designed, built and tested over the last few weeks.

“These partnerships have led to true innovation in finding creative solutions to a complex, real-world problem and may support industry, the NSW economy and ensure people are employed during this challenging time,” Ms Wark said.


Partnering with NSW Health, UNSW, AmpControl and John Hunter Hospital, the project will involve the manufacture of 10 fully functioning units of each ventilator for further clinical assessment and satisfaction of Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) requirements for COVID-19 use in Australia.

Related news