Italian engineers have created ventilators to help fight against the Coronavirus, using snorkel masks.

The Coronavirus pandemic has shaken the world in a way that no-one could have anticipated anything would. Whole countries are in lockdown and, with the streets empty and the shops closed, it’s a new kind of fear.

Over in Italy, the pandemic knows no bounds, which has led to two engineers applying their trade in order to quell the damage.

Cristian Fracassi and Alessandro Romaioli are the engineers in question, who work at a start-up firm, Isinnova, based in Brescia.

Italian Engineers Ventilators

Brescia is a town that has seen hundreds of deaths at the hands of the virus, with one of its hospitals struggling to help its patients, as they lack the necessary numbers of valves for their ventilator machines.

The two journeyed to the hospital and saw that the part needed connected the oxygen masks to the respirators.


A few goes were needed, but once they returned to their office, Fracassi and Romaioli were able to create a replica of the machine with their 3D printer.

snorkel mask coronavirus

In a piece for the New York Times, they said:

Our first few attempts didn’t succeed, but eventually we made four copies of the prototype on a small 3-D printing machine that we have in our office.

While the valve might look like a simple piece of plastic, it’s pretty complex; the hole that diffuses the oxygen is less than a millimetre in diameter.

The day after, we returned to the hospital and gave our valves to a doctor who tested them. They worked and he asked for 100 more. So we went back to the office, and returned to the hospital with 100 more.

The demand then grew, with more hospitals asking for the same parts. Cristian and Alessandro were happy to oblige, though they admitted that this part was not able to fit every ventilator.

With that, they came up with a new idea, using pre-existing snorkels to create ventilation masks.

They said:

This sparked a second idea: to modify a snorkelling mask already on the market to create a ventilation-assisted mask for hospitals in need of additional equipment, which was successful when the hospital tested it on a patient in need.

You can read more about their genius masks here.

Amazing work, chaps.

Images via Issinova