Covid-19 Update- Key Tech Designs New Positive Pressure Air Respirator

Key Tech was recently asked to join the fight against COVID-19 by developing critical personnel protection equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers around Baltimore.  The preferred PPE is a device called a PAPR, which stands for “positive pressure air respirator”.  Picture a plastic head cover and face shield connected to an air tube and blower (battery-powered).  The device blows clean air (through a HEPA filter) inside the hood and creates a positive pressure condition, blocking contaminated air from getting in.  Several hospitals asked if we could design a simple PAPR blower, since the units are back-ordered for months through normal supply channels.

We all want to help in this pandemic so naturally, we jumped in.  After a couple of intense weeks, the design is almost done and we just ramped up the production line. We’re not quite there yet, but we should be producing the PAPRs within a week or two, with the hope of donating 100 units or more to local hospitals.

Even in this challenging time, the immense support we’ve seen serves as a bright reminder that people come together in difficult times. When the call came in looking for help, we reached out to our engineers and staff, as well as our network of friends and suppliers.  The response was heartwarming.  Our engineers and designers have all gone above and beyond with their time and talents, including long nights and weekends.  Bob Storey, at LaunchPort, offered us some space to set up the production line, and Engineered Medical Systems (EMS), a local medical device manufacturer, is letting us use some of their specialized test equipment (to confirm the safe operation of the PAPRs).  Emma Bigelow has been fearlessly working to integrate everyone’s efforts and leading the charge on this project.  DeWalt offered many hours of guidance on the selection of HEPA filters and batteries.  The State of Maryland contributed some much-needed funding for the components for the PAPRs, and Johns Hopkins donated funds for the technicians on the production line.

There are more that I haven’t listed, but you know who you are and we thank you. Our intent is to make this design open-source, once fully vetted, so that it’s available to anyone who might have a need. Our healthcare workers deserve the best as they’re fighting on the front lines, and it gives us some small degree of comfort that we are contributing towards that end.

Brian Lipford

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