ITRI unveils first made-in-Taiwan ventilator prototype (2020/05/08)

The Industrial Technology Research Institute has unveiled a prototype of a high-end medical-grade ventilator. This prototype was built with more than 500 components created through 3D printing or sourced from Taiwan manufacturers. If the prototype passes testing, ITRI will work to produce 100 ventilators as part of the first batch. Taiwan has long had to rely on imported ventilators, as it does not make these complex machines domestically. Due to the coronavirus epidemic, there's been a surge in demand for ventilators to treat the critically ill.

An ITRI R&D team is assembling Taiwan’s first domestically made ventilator for patients with severe respiratory symptoms. The process was documented live and broadcast online.

ITRI unveiled the prototype and even showed the inside of its laboratory for the first time. The Ministry of Economic Affairs invested NT$50 million in creating production capacity for medical-grade ventilators. After obtaining authorization from a U.S. ventilator manufacturer, the team created Taiwan's first ventilator prototype in just 17 days. Production will start once testing and technology transfer is complete. The goal is to make 100 ventilators as soon as next June.

Chang Pei-zen
ITRI vice president
We won’t have enough time to make molds, so we’ll using 3-D printing. All the plastic components will be 3-D printed. The third thing is, the ventilators have some electronic components. We will try our best to find domestic suppliers for these components. To date, there are only five components left that we haven’t secured suppliers for. Four of them we’re still procuring, so there’s only one that we have to develop ourselves.

Ventilators look deceptively simple. Developing this single prototype required the work of 30 technicians and more than 500 parts. The economics ministry is planning to source all its parts domestically.

Lo Ta-sheng
Ministry of Economic Affairs
Taiwan has always had a good reputation when it comes to its medical-grade piping materials, continuous positive airway pressure devices, and its negative pressure ventilation devices. These products have been sold under the Taiwan brand at home and abroad. But we had not invested in developing medical-grade ventilators. This ventilator developed by a team led by ITRI can be sold internationally under the Taiwan brand.

In Europe and the United States, life-saving medical-grade ventilators are in urgent demand due to the pandemic. Taiwan currently relies on imports for emergency use ventilators. The Ministry of Economic Affairs has formed a team to produce ventilators in Taiwan, to ensure sufficient supply to meet any emergency need.