Companies Offer Expertise in Motor Control to Develop Open-Source Ventilators

April 17, 2020 by Robin Mitchell

How do Monolithic Power System (MPS) ventilators work, and will it help with the COVID-19 crisis?

Monolithic Power Systems

Monolithic Power Systems, or MPS, is a power solutions company that designs power systems for all applications including industrial, telecommunications, consumer, and cloud computing.

Many of their products are designed to integrate power solutions onto a single chip that can help to reduce cost, complexity, and size of circuitry. Founded in 1997, MPS has grown to become a global player in power electronics and has made strides with their power systems technology.

The company also produces many other products including lightning controls, amplifiers, and motor controllers.


COVID-19 Ventilators

The demand for ventilators is higher than ever. Due to the fact that there are a large number of global cases, the need outweighs the existing supply available.

Should a ventilator shortage occur, hospitals will need to make the most difficult decision; who should be the one to get the equipment?

As a result of this potential shortage, governments, companies, educational institutions, and others have begun to provide designers with the information needed to create emergency ventilators that are easy to construct and cheap.



A screenshot of MPS's open-source ventilator. Image used courtesy of a video from MPS.


To meet this challenge, MIT has designed an open-source ventilator, the VENT-E system which it hopes will inspire other designers to create low-cost ventilators. This is where Monolithic Power Systems comes in.


Requirements of Ventilators

Ventilators have several requirements including battery backup, motor control, and reliability which all directly relate to MPS specialties and thus, MPS has created an open-source ventilator that combines MPS motor control and power systems.

The ventilator, based on an Arduino, uses NEMA style motors controlled by the MPS MPP742077-24-C motor driver module to squeeze a flexible plastic container that provides the breathing action. To ensure reliable operation, the ventilator has a battery bank for back up with all power systems being handled by various MPS power solutions.

Mechanical parts to the design are built using 3D printer technology, allowing for rapid-prototyping but would probably be replaced with more sturdy parts in a final application.


Do you know of other companies who are developing ventilators or other medical equipment?