Open Ventilator Design and Production

One of the very interesting things about our response to covid19 has been to watch who responded, who felt both the need and the capability to help. Now, I don’t want to discount the admirable efforts of the formal healthcare system and its many practitioners, but I want to focus here on people that changed what they were doing and attempted to expand the capability of our society to respond to this pandemic. Seeing Dave Franchino’s post on open hardware design this past week, I’d like to express a few observations, to enumerate some of the breakdowns I saw and preview how my company Mechanomy is working to fix these issues for the next supply chain emergency.

Mid-March, I gave some thought to the improvised/open ventilator efforts and covid, looking to see if I and Mechanomy could help in a way that wasn’t nakedly marketing. I was quickly dissuaded by the disparity between the predictions of impending tragedy in mass media, necessitating significant action, and the lack of any formal engagement from healthcare providers and manufacturers. Locally, I saw a job posting as GE Healthcare stood up 2nd and 3rd shifts, but they were not seeking engineers or really attempting to change their product or design around supply chain shortfalls. Likewise there were no anesthesiologists or other practitioners explaining to the broader world what a ventilator needed to do, what features they can do without, and how they would vet or come to trust non-name-brand solutions. Continue reading “Open Ventilator Design and Production”

Development Trends Survey

At Mechanomy, we are building tools for the future of product design; as a researcher, designer, developer, manufacturer, seller, user, or supporter, this is your future.  Technology does not improve by itself; tomorrow is only better if we work to make it so, and this work is efficient when we can separate real frustrations and limitations from hearsay and imaginings.

As we’ve approached Mechanomy, one of the key challenges has been testing our intuitions about customer pains and applying these to make the correct product decisions.  For a wide variety of reasons, the business processes (design, development, manufacturing, and sales) used to create products are not discussed publicly, nor are they readily discernible from examining the final products.  These processes are rightly regarded as competitive advantages, but this prevents hardware developers from drawing inspiration from their peers, and it limits our ability to discover and improve today’s workflows.

Today, we’re launching our first Development Trends survey at  We intend this survey to be a semiannual snapshot of the state, hopes, and pains of product development.  Some questions are directly relevant to products we are building or considering, but more than that we feel it is important for the broader hardware design, development, and manufacturing community to regularly examine our tools and workflows, to seek to improve the ways that we build systems.

We would greatly appreciate your participation and candor in the survey, particularly if you feel we’ve overlooked some important aspect of your experience.  After the survey closes on March 31st we’ll tally and publish the results and our observations.  Please share this survey with your colleagues and friends and, as always, if you want to stay apprised of our efforts, say hi!