Health and Healthcare Systems

A startup in Italy used 3D printing to make valves for COVID-19 patients

Valves produced with a 3D printer for hospitals are seen near the northern Italian city of Brescia, in Chiari Italy March 15, 2020.  CRISTIAN FRACASSI/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. - RC25LF97D9PK

Valves produced with a 3D printer for hospitals. Image: Cristian Fracassi/Handout via REUTERS

Ana Zarzalejos
Correspondent, Business Insider
Ruqayyah Moynihan
International Editorial Content Fellow, Business Insider
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  • When a hospital in Italy realized they were running out of valves for ventilators needed by those most severely affected by COVID-19, a local startup managed to get to the hospital to manufacture the valves using 3D-printing.
  • Italy is one of the countries most severely affected by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, with a death toll of more than 2,500.
  • The Italian Minister of Technological Innovation thanked the engineers for their work.

A few days ago, staff at a hospital in Italy realized they were running out of valves for patients' respirators, which are essential for the most serious cases of COVID-19, when patients are admitted to the ICU.

The supplier wasn't able to provide them in the short term, as the company itself was facing a shortage caused by the outbreak. Italy has been hit incredibly hard, resulting in more than 2,500 deaths.

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The hospital, located outside Chiari in Lombardy, sent out a distress call through the newspaper Giornale di Brescia, which caught the attention of physicist Massimo Temporelli, founder of FabLab.

FabLab is an Italian company that specializes in innovative manufacturing solutions. However, the restrictions on movement imposed in Italy prevented Temporelli himself — who is based in Milan — from handling the matter.

After searching around, the physicist connected with startup Isinnova, which is based in Brescia — near Chiari, where the hospital is located — and has a 3D printer.

Isinnova's Cristian Fracassi and Alessandro Ramaioli collaborated with Temporelli and began manufacturing valves in the space of 6 hours.

In a Facebook post, Temporelli announced the moment the team managed to design a working valve which has now been used in the respiratory equipment of 10 admitted patients.


Italy's Minister of Technological Innovation Paola Pisano acknowledged the achievement and congratulated those involved.


Once the valves are determined to have met all the necessary standards for approval, the team hopes to produce them for all hospitals that need them.

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Health and Healthcare SystemsManufacturing and Value Chains
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