Stopping the spread: How a Rider professor is using 3D printing to help those affected by COVID-19

John Bochanski was given permission to retrieve Rider’s 3D printer from the campus. Since then, he has been using the printer to create ventilator splitters that will ultimately save many lives that are battling COVID-19.

by Christian McCarville

The mass spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused lots of panic and uncertainty across the globe. As hospitals quickly became filled and low on resources, health care workers have been consistently putting their lives on the line to help those infected with the virus. These heroes along with other first responders and volunteers have served to combat the virus and provide as much care for those infected as possible. One of these heroes is Rider’s own professor John Bochanski.

Bochanski is an associate professor of physics at Rider and chair of the Computer Science and Physics department. He is also the director and founder of Rider’s computer science major. Bochanski has been recently contributing to the fight against COVID-19 by using a 3D printer to create ventilator splitters that he has been donating to local hospitals. 

“Doctors, especially those with some 3D printing experience, have been putting untested designs out to the public, in hopes that they could help make these splitters,” said Bochanski. “A good friend of mine, Justin Philips, let me know about the design put out by Dr. Alexander Clarke. He suggested that I start making them, and so I got to work.” 

Ventilator splitters are extremely beneficial to hospitals, as ventilators are in very high demand. Since COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, those with severe cases require ventilators to breathe. The splitters maximize the efficiency of all available ventilators, allowing more than one patient to use the machine.

Sophomore accounting major Cory Mayo gave praise to Bochanski and emphasized the importance of ventilator splitters. 

“It is truly noble that Dr. Bochanski is taking the initiative to help people in our country battle COVID-19. It’d be highly efficient for hospitals to use these splitters, as they can use this to ventilate up to four patients at once in some cases,” said Mayo.

Bochanski holds up one of his 3D printed ventilator splitters. These splitters are very valuable to hospitals, as they give more patients access to a ventilator.

Bochanski provided details regarding his process of 3D printing the splitters and getting them to patients in need.

 “Once you download the files, it is pretty straightforward to print the devices. On the printer I am using, it takes about 12 hours to make one set of splitters,” said Bochanski. 

After finding out about the printable ventilator splitter design, Bochanski reached out to Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Kelly Bidle and got permission to bring home Rider’s 3D printer. The printer now resides in his garage as he continues to produce splitters. 

 “I also was able to directly contact the CEO of Capital Health, which took the first batch of splitters.  I could only do that because of a relationship that Dr. Jonathan Yavelow has forged with Capital Health,” Bochanski explained. “So it really is a group effort by a lot of people in the Rider community to make this happen. My parents raised my siblings and me to be proactive about helping others, and it is something that I am trying to instill in my own kids today.”

Bochanski stressed the importance of staying home in order to hinder the spread of the virus. It is something that everyone can do that has a real and measurable impact on putting an end to the pandemic.

“We all need to be taking this seriously and abiding by the CDC’s recommendations,” contributed sophomore business analytics major Kevin Buckland. “We are witnessing history in the making and we need to stay apart now so we can get back together soon.” 

Bochanski also explained how others can contribute to the cause if they are in possession of a 3D printer. 

“If you have a 3D printer, laser cutter or CNC machine, please look at sites like https://3dprint.nih.gov, https://www.helpfulengineering.org, and https://www.betterblock.org/covid19 for ideas on how to help,” said Bochanski.  “If you can sew, begin making masks and distributing them to your family and friends. Everyone can help out in their own way, and bring some hope into the world.”  

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