Filling the Shortage of Battery Packs for Respirators

May 18, 2020
Two companies joined forces to develop a new generation of battery packs that are both cost-effective and easy to build.

The rapid spread of the COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted the livelihoods, businesses, and communities worldwide. Manufacturers around the globe are shifting production to produce life-saving medical supplies. Two Reno, Nevada-based companies, SendCutSend and Nevada JumpStarter, have joined forces to help medical centers in the Northwest region of the United States to fill the critical shortage of battery packs for powered air-purifying respirators.

Michael Gillette, a Lead Designer at Nevada JumpStarter, was contacted by The University of Nevada, Reno Makerspace about developing a new prototype for powered air-purifying respirators for regional medical centers. The Makerspace, together with an extensive network of businesses, organizations, and volunteers, were already developing facemasks, as well as patterns and kits to support the construction of gowns. Nevada JumpStarter, a company that specializes in developing function first prototypes, were up to the challenge.

“The battery packs traditionally used in powered air-purifying respirators are manufactured in factories with expensive specialized tooling. We wanted to develop a new generation of battery packs that are both cost-effective and easy to build,” says Gillette.

Gillette developed a design that took no technical expertise or special machinery to assemble. Additionally, it was assembled to be a single part so installation would be easy and reliable for the hospital workers. The design combined 3D printed plastic parts with metal laser-cut parts and a plastic laser-cut backing. 3D printing offers the ability to make complex and three-dimensional shapes, while laser-cutting allows for more robust and rapidly produced parts.

While Gillette could develop the 3D printed parts and plastic laser-cut backing at The University of Nevada, Reno Makerspace, he did not have the resources to develop the metal laser-cut parts in-house. He contacted Jim Belosic, Application Engineering President at SendCutSend, a company that specializes in laser-cut parts with rapid turnaround, to develop the metal laser-cut parts required for the design.

“When Michael reached out to me, I was eager to do our part to help our local community during COVID-19. At SendCutSend, we are working tirelessly to manufacture powered air-purifying battery pack parts as quickly as possible. We pledged to donate 100% of our materials and labor to produce battery pack parts for medical centers in our region throughout the pandemic,” says Belosic.

Belosic worked with his team to develop two iterations of Gillette’s design within a few days before Gillette settled on the final design. SendCutSend, known for manufacturing metal parts with a breakless bend, developed parts for the battery pack that required no specialized labor or soldering.

“If we had developed the parts without SendCutSend, skilled labor and soldering would have been required. Since the parts are laser-cut metal, all they need is to be screwed together, which can be done by anyone with minimal training. This allows us to not only stay budget-friendly but also enables us to assemble battery packs quicker and more efficiently,” says Gillette.

The week of April 20th,100 battery pack units were delivered to medical centers throughout the Northwest region of the United States. Nevada JumpStarter and SendCutSend are maintaining a vigorous production schedule and will continue to manufacture battery packs as long as there is a need in the region.