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Blacksheep ROBO2 Ventilator Project

The Why

At the moment, Blacksheep Power is working on a world-leading R&D project for medical equipment to support the world. At the very start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mark, the CEO of Blacksheep, came back to Vietnam from the UK and was immediately quarantined upon landing in Hanoi as a result of the plane carrying the first infected patients from Europe. During his time in quarantine, Mark kept thinking about the consequences if the pandemic seriously hit Vietnam or other Low to Middle Income Countries (LMICs). He realized that there would be a serious shortage of ventilators and that there is an opportunity to work in creating smart ventilators. Mark started to do research on this idea and once he was out of quarantine, he wrote a briefing note that reached the top echelons of Vietnamese government and business.

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As a result Mark was asked to consult the most significant ventilator projects in Vietnam. At Blacksheep the success of a product lies within the ability of the product to solve a problem in the lives of their customers. Therefore, for this ventilator project we talked to both the experts across Europe and Asia as well as end users both in High and Low resource settings, with the focus on understanding the real need, concentrated on finding the root cause of the problem.

This eventually led Blacksheep to understand that the problem is not just a shortage of proper medical equipment. During large-scale public health emergencies, such as the COVID-19 outbreak, a wide range of surrounding resources like space, human resources, medical components, time for training, and so on, is where the true problem lies.

This is an ecosystem where each organism has an impact on the other and on the whole environment. And, Blacksheep didn’t simply want to create something for this pandemic rather we wanted to create something that the wealthier countries would need during a health emergency as well as the poorer countries being able to afford in a normal time as well as have access to during a pandemic.

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Blacksheep ventilator

This is not another ‘COVID-ventilator’ project. Blacksheep’s ultimate aim to make a ventilator that:

  • Is a high-performance low-cost ventilator principally for non-pandemic use in LMICs;
  • Addresses the specific challenges of operating a ventilator safely in LMICs;
  • Can be safely used by non-expert doctors and nurses;
  • Is able to scale when demand increases during a time of a pandemic;
  • Is developed, tested and manufactured with the high level of diligence required for a product of this type* and achieves full regulatory approval.

*following ISO13485, O2 compliance certified and global certification standards

The How

Various activities have been carried out from the beginning of the project until now. There will be more in the coming days so Blacksheep could reach the stage where they are confident to release the ventilator to the market. The following points summarize our working philosophy and distinguish us from other ventilator projects:

  • End-user engagement from the outset of the project;
  • Design the ventilator from scratch to ensure the manufacturing capacity during pandemic times;
  • Design encompassing consumer-grade components yet compliant with required medical standards;
  • Designed to be serviced by doctors, nurses and medical support staff with no special skills and tools required;
  • High performance automation ventilation to ensure that the ventilator can be used safely with minimal training;
  • Rigorous risk assessment/mitigation processes applied at all stages of design;
  • Robust design features to allow long periods of use in LMICs;
  • Cloud-based data storage allowing learning/sharing/telemedicine connectivity.

Ventilator for beyond the pandemic

Although the project was initiated during COVID-19 pandemic, we are building this smart ventilator that will last beyond the pandemic. Our projects are completed in a series of phases which is not limited to this time and pandemic. Rather we want to ensure that we build a product that adheres to international quality without cutting corners to meet demands. Illustration of the process below:

System design evolution

The core objective is to create a minimal viable yet robust machine.

(1) Scribble of system diagram and integrated layer concept idea

(2) Illustrate the concept on CAD

(3) Proof-of-principle system design

(4) Earlier version of system design at the Alpha phase

(5) Integrated layer improved at the Alpha phase

(6) Alpha phase complete prototype

Core-part evolution

From basic design to illustrating the working mechanisms of the mouldable injection design.

Design Evolution

The changes in design of one critical-part.

From IE valve drawing…

…to IE valve rendering…

…to 3D printing prototypes…

… to injection-moulded prototype.

Prototype Variation

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