Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, around the world, we’ve been hearing about a shortage of ventilators.

Quick lesson on why ventilators are so important to treat coronavirus: In short, ventilators help people breathe. And in some cases of COVID-19, the lungs can become inflamed and filled with fluid, making it difficult to let air through.

In some cases, ventilators can make the difference between what keeps a patient alive or what makes them another fatal statistic.

One of the hardest-hit countries of coronavirus is Italy, largely due to the extreme shortage of ventilator masks in the northern part of the country.

The shortage became so extreme that a doctor reached out to Cristian Fracassi and Alessandro Romaioli, engineers at Isinnova, a 3D printing company, for help with an innovative way to get more ventilators.

The idea he had? Make masks out of scuba equipment.

While some might’ve scoffed at the thought, the engineers didn’t think this was a silly request at all. In fact, in no less than three hours the team had developed a prototype for a 3D printed valve that could successfully transform scuba gear into a ventilator mask.

And, with the help of French sporting goods retailer Decathlon, they were able to acquire the materials needed to get the job done.

“We had never made valves before, but we wanted to help,” the engineers said.

The prototype was taken for testing at the Chiari Hospital and voila—the thing worked! After that, the engineers were able to print 100 more valves. That could mean the difference between 100 lives saved!

What’s even more amazing is that the engineers did patent the valve, but, in an effort to save more lives, they made the 3D printing files free of charge so any medical professionals could use the files to produce ventilators in light of the pandemic.

Though a great invention, the engineers do want to make it clear that these scuba masks are only to be used when absolutely necessary. “We are reiterating that the idea is designed for healthcare facilities and wants to help in realization of an emergency mask in the case of a full-blown difficult situation, where is not possible to in find official healthcare supplies,” they stated.

To see first-hand just how scuba gear can be turned into working ventilators, check out the video below.

Wow! It’s hard to believe something so ordinary like scuba gear could help save a life. Can you believe how innovative people are getting in light of the coronavirus outbreak?