Engineers in Italy create a valve to convert snorkeling mask for COVID-19 patient ventilation

Updated: Jul 23, 2020


Our team at helmetbasedventilation.com is not alone in seeking alternatives to help medical workers in the COVID-19 health care crisis. Others are innovating and producing devices to support noninvasive ventilation (NIV) techniques.


Engineers at Isinnova, an Italian engineering, and creative firm, have developed a valve to convert a snorkeling mask into a full-face mask for NIV. Dr. Renato Favero, former head physician at Gardone Valtrompia Hospital in Brescia, Italy, reached out to Isinnova with “an idea to fix the possible shortage of hospital C-PAP masks for sub-intensive therapy, which is a concrete problem linked to the spread of COVID-19,” according to the website.


Decathlon, the producer of the snorkeling Easybreath mask, provided the CAD drawing of the mask. Isinnova dismantled it, studied it, and evaluated changes. They designed a new component to connect the mask to a ventilator, dubbed the “Charlotte valve.” It can be made using 3-D printing.


New Design to Connect The Mask to a Ventilator

The prototype was tested successfully on a colleague and on a patient. It’s intended to help in a full-blown emergency situation in which it’s not possible to find official healthcare supplies, the website warns. Neither the mask nor the link valve is certified, and patients would need to sign an acceptance of the use of an uncertified biomedical device.


Isinnova states the patent will remain free so all hospitals in need can use it. The file is freely shared, and it’s easy for 3-D printers to use. Hospitals can purchase the mask from Decathlon and connect with a 3-D printer to make the link valves.


Isinnova is a team of engineers, designers and communication experts who collect ideas and transform them into concrete objects, according to its website. They help companies and individuals who have an idea to turn it into a finished product. Isinnova also develops internal projects. The company is based in Brescia, Italy.


Our team supports the use of NIV via helmet for patients with acute respiratory distress from COVID-19 to help prevent intubation, which is more costly and can cause other health problems. NIV via face mask is another way to support patients in need.