A group at MIT figured out how to make an emergency ventilator for $100 using a common hospital item - instead of the usual $30,000

A group at MIT figured out how to make an emergency ventilator for $100 using a common hospital item - instead of the usual $30,000


REUTERS/Go Nakamura

Engineers at Rice University display a low cost ventilator that they designed and which they hope can be used to treat coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients in Houston, Texas, U.S. March 29, 2020.

  • A team at MIT developed an emergency ventilator that could be built with parts for $100 using a bag-valve resuscitator, a common hospital item, according to a recent report.
  • The bag-valve resuscitator is typically a hand-operated piece of equipment, but the team developed a process to pump air mechanically.
  • The design, which has yet to receive any of the necessary regulatory approval, will be posted online to provide experienced clinical engineers with the ability to build upon the work.
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A team at MIT developed a ventilator that could be built with $100 dollars worth of parts - a fraction of the average $30,000 cost most machines take to manufacture, according to a report by SciTechDaily.

The innovative design of the machine relies upon a bag-valve resuscitator, a piece of equipment found in bulk at most hospitals to help patients breathe, the report said.


Ventilators are one of the most in-demand medical items at the moment amid a worldwide shortage due to the coronavirus.

The team, MIT E-Vent, which consists of doctors, engineers, and computer scientists, decided to fervently revisit the building of an emergency ventilator machine, which began as a project in an MIT class, SciTechDaily reports.

The bag-valve resuscitator, also known as an Ambu bag, is used by hand to pump air into the lungs of a patient, according to the report. The design of MIT E-vent's machine pumps the Ambu bag mechanically in order to run for days, since just a two-week period could require more than one million cycles of the machine.


While the team plans to publish the design online in order to contribute to a wide-scale ramp-up of the device's production in order to help the worldwide storage, they stressed that the design is not meant for anyone to build - it's intended for experienced clinical engineers to help expand manufacturing, according to the report.

"The primary consideration is patient safety," one team member told SciTechDaily. "So we had to establish what we're calling minimum clinical functional requirements."

MIT E-vent emphasized the technical nature of the machine, as it must be able to adjust the air and pressure given to a patient to fit their exact needs and must be relied upon to operate continuously since machine failure could be deadly, according to SciTechDaily.


The team is waiting to receive feedback from the US Food and Drug Administration, the report said, because FDA approval would be a crucial step to get the machine running on a large scale.

But MIT isn't alone, according to SciTechDaily - other teams are also working on similar design projects to push forward access to ventilators.

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