Mercedes F1 machines make a thousand breathing aids a day to help coronavirus patients

UK designs for a breathing aid that can help keep Covid-19 patients out ofintensive care have been made freely available for other countries to use.

The device, known as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), has been approved for UK hospitals after a team from University College London (UCL) and University College London Hospital (UCLH) worked with Mercedes Formula One in Northamptonshire to adapt and improve existing CPAP.

The CPAP is manufactured at the Mercedes Brixworth centre Credit: Mercedes AMG HPP

According to UCL, a Government order for up to 10,000 of the devices means they are now being produced at a rate of up to 1,000 a day in Brixworth, Northamptonshire, where Mercedes-Benz has a technology centre. Currently, 40 machines that would normally produce Formula One pistons and turbochargers are being used for production of the CPAP devices.

All the details required to make the device are also now freely availableonline for manufacturers to download at

The kit also specifies the materials and tools used in the rapid prototypingprocess, as well as the fabrication time needed for each part.

CPAP has been used extensively in hospitals in Italy and China to helpcoronavirus patients, and bridges the gap between an oxygen mask and the need for full ventilation, which requires sedation and an invasive procedure.

Credit: Mercedes AMG HPP

Last month, Downing Street said the NHS had been given the go-ahead to order enough of the machines to meet "clinical demand" after trial results were positive.

The adapted device was developed in under 100 hours from an initial meeting to production of the first CPAP. Mark II of the device, which has reduced oxygen consumption by up to 70% compared to the Mark I model, received UK regulatory approval last week.

UCLH critical care consultant Professor Mervyn Singer said the devices hadhelped "dozens of patients with Covid-19" breathe more easily this week.