The valve typically costs about $11,000 — the volunteers made them for about $
A medical device manufacturer has threatened to sue a group of volunteers in Italy that 3D printed a valve used for life-saving coronavirus treatments. The valve typically costs about $11,000 from the medical device manufacturer, but the volunteers were able to print replicas for about $1 (via Techdirt).
A hospital in Italy was in need of the valves after running out while treating patients for COVID-19. The hospital’s usual supplier said they could not make the valves in time to treat the patients, according to Metro. That launched a search for a way to 3D print a replica part, and Cristian Fracassi and Alessandro Ramaioli, who work at Italian startup Isinnova, offered their company’s printer for the job, reports Business Insider.
However, when the pair asked the manufacturer of the valves for blueprints they could use to print replicas, the company declined and threatened to sue for patent infringement, according to Business Insider Italia. Fracassi and Ramaioli moved ahead anyway by measuring the valves and 3D printing three different versions of them.
So far, the valves they made have worked on 10 patients as of March 14th, according to Massimo Temporelli, the founder of Italian manufacturing solutions company FabLab who helped recruit Fracassi and Ramaioli to print the replica valves.
“[The patients] were people in danger of life, and we acted. Period,” said Fracassi in a Facebook post. He also said that “we have no intention of profit on this situation, we are not going to use the designs or product beyond the strict need for us forced to act, we are not going to spread the drawing.”
Here’s a good look at the valves, shared by Italy’s Minister of Technological Innovation Paola Pisano on Twitter
Italy has more than 31,500 confirmed infections of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and more than 2,500 confirmed deaths. Both figures trail only China.