Initiative of Fraunhofer IPK in Berlin to "Fraunhofer vs. Corona"


In early April, the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft launched a comprehensive program "Fraunhofer vs. Corona”. President Prof. Reimund Neugebauer declared:

"In the short term, we are reallocating millions of euros within Fraunhofer to immediate start-up financing. We are concentrating here on promoting direct anti-corona projects from the medical and health sector, for example vaccine development, necessary innovative diagnostics and drug development, the provision of IT capacities and targeted preliminary research. In addition, we provide ad hoc technological support in the production of components for protective equipment. We now want to help small and medium-sized enterprises in particular with R&D and qualification offers - and give them a targeted innovation push in these difficult times. With these initiatives, we are promoting the preservation of local competence and know-how capacity and thus contributing to securing the technological leadership and technological sovereignty of Germany and Europe.”

All institutions of the Research Association were called upon to launch projects according to their particular expertise. The Fraunhofer VPE IPK in Berlin, with its focus on product development and production, has responded to this with an initiative that started on May 1 and will run until the end of September. It aims to strengthen the open source community in its efforts to rapidly develop and produce ventilators. Here is the statement of the Fraunhofer VPE IPK:

With open source hardware against Corona

VPE ventilator PTCPicture:VPE Ventilator Production despite Corona, © phonlamaiphoto / Adobe Stock

There are currently no consolidated actions by the open source community for the development, planning and manufacture of ventilators, although the potential is huge. In the future, it will only be possible to remedy this situation if the ways in which the Open Source Community can work in harmony with classic manufacturing companies, taking into account their regional characteristics, become clear. So far, this potential has not been evaluated and no common paths have been identified.

Challenge to the Open Source Community

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has shown that there is a shortage of essential respiratory equipment in Germany, Europe and worldwide. As a result, companies, research institutions and private individuals have started to work on implementations for improvised devices. A movement (community) has developed, which, however, has no clear contact persons, is unmanageable in its actions and activities and does not pursue a visible production strategy. Against this background, it must nevertheless be ensured that the ventilators developed and produced comply with all necessary medical regulations and can also be manufactured safely. The main challenges lie in the rapid development, needs-based production and certification of ventilators that can be used to heal patients.

Current initial situation

There are several research institutions and companies working on the development of open source based ventilators. However, this usually neglects the aspect of serial and/or distributed manufacturing with local specifics (e.g. means of production, resources, competencies, logistics). A rethinking towards integrated development and manufacturing is necessary. This can be achieved by the Open Source community - however, ways have to be analysed and pointed out. In addition to integrated development and manufacturing, the establishment of the supply chain for medically suitable parts, the procurement of express certifications, clinical trials, ensuring the training of medical personnel and the support of devices on site remain important challenges. The project aims to investigate how these challenges can be overcome by using open source hardware against corona.

The effect of open source hardware against Corona

The project Open Source Hardware against Corona aims to investigate the performance and effectiveness of the open source community and to show ways in which the community can make a significant contribution to the development and production of complex medical ventilators. A further goal is to show ways to quickly tap the potential of the community to ensure the demand for hospitals and other medical facilities.

Dr.-Ing. Kai Lindow
Head of department information- and process control
Phone +49 30 39006-214

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