M19 Oxygen Concentrator

| February 8, 2023

Interview: M19 Oxygen Concentrator

Vaibhav Chhabra organised the development of an oxygen concentrator during the Covid19 pandemic. The present version is called M19 Oxygen Concentrator.

by the Open make team, Vaibhav Chhabra. Copyright to the authors, distributed under a CC-BY 4.0 licence.


Banner image: maker’s asylum logo

Interviewee: Vaibhav Chhabra

Interviewers: Robert Mies (TU Berlin) & Moritz Maxeiner (FU Berlin)

Transcription and editing: Diana Paola Americano Guerrero, Fabio Reeh, Robert Mies, Moritz Maxeiner & Julien Colomb

screenshot of the interview

Screenshot of the interview.

The M19 Oxygen Concentrator in a nutshell

photo of M19 Oxygen Concentrator equipment

*Photos of the M19 Oxygen Concentrator *

Hardware products

It’s an oxygen concentrator that gives you about 15 liters per minute, the oxygen is at 90 plus percent efficiency or purity. We were able to look at a few issues and work on issues around humidity and tropicalisation of the concentrators.

Hardware maturity

Version one was a high flow rate oxygen concentrator, the second was completely open. The third was made using locally available parts.


Many other organizations were able to take our design and go to market with it.

The project

Project start

The oxygen concentrator project started in the second wave of the pandemic. We decided to do two things. One was to build them, understand how they work, and share that knowledge. At the same time, we “tropicalised” them. We involved a lot of communities across the country.

Then we went through the certification process of output and input. We didn’t go through the full medical use certification but for validating our input and output. We know exactly what’s coming out of it and what’s going into it.

How did it all start with the M19 Oxygen Concentrator?

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What was the core benefit of this project? How does the hardware fit in the overall project?

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We received a bunch of small grants, from various organizations. The largest donor was Schmidt Futures which is a rich man’s foundation. We received it from the European Union and Cambridge University. Besides we raised some crowdfunding money.

How’s the project funded? How much overall budget did you receive?

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Where did you receive the budget from?

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Could you describe the overall process of the project?

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Project process

We worked with the professors at University of Cambridge ,the open community of hardware enthusiasts in India and with smaller organizations. We used to have calls every night.

We divided ourselves in smaller groups. The tech team used to have calls at a different time than the management team.

Having this kind of network helped everyone trying to make a difference.

How did you organize the entire process?

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Major issues

We had a lot of technical issues and inconsistency amongst other labs:it was an issue of getting the same parts.

We had a bunch of issues primarily on the supply chain end, because we don’t manufacture some of these things in India.

On the project level, what major bottlenecks have you come across? How did you resolve them?

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How did you solve that?

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Decision making

There were three of us who were making certain decisions. We were listening to everyone. But it was important to move fast.

How were decisions made within the project?

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Hardware importance

Almost about 150 organizations were able to join up for M19 collective. We build an oxygen concentrator. We were able to build on top of it and do a lot of service in terms of repairing.

We were trying to figure out how do we create a system where we are able to make it easier for folks to certify hardware for medical use. I think it’s a work in progress always.

The Hardware

What exactly was the hardware product that you have developed?

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Hardware components

Mechanically, we have to create the entire structure and assemble all the parts. Electronically, we designed our own PCBs. One of the labs/teams was able to design a software to calibrate the machine because one of the issues was timing and calibration.

How would you classify the product in terms of mechanical, electrical or software components?

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On the electronic side, did you need to develop any chips or are you only using premade chips?

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If you were to rate the maturity of the product in terms of prototype, demonstrator and market ready, where would you place it?

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Local production

30 organizations were able to recreate the same in their patients. They were part of the calls and then they used the designs that were shared by us.

We started using locally available materials to be able to build them.

Those other entities have independently produced this hardware or did they take instructions from you? Were there any?

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Are you aware of any entities that have built, produced or modified the design independently of you?

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Research Outputs

When you started the project, what were the envisioned outputs of the hardware development in terms of publications, prototypes, documentation and learning?

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Publication strategy

Our project is on https://hackday.io and a few other websites, including our own. We still need to write some papers on it, which we are hoping to finish.

We published the repair manual with the European Union on their website.

Instead of writing a paper, we went backto running the rest of our organization and back to work.

Have you published the project findings in relation to the hardware?

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Did you publish the repair manuals?

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What information have you shared like bill of materials, CAD files and assembly instructions?

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Academic outputs

It’s all on GitHub, Hackaday and a few other websites. With the European Union, we did a report on repairing EU. That’s been published on their website.

How did you publish the hardware?

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Why did you choose those platforms?

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Were using those platforms easy or were there any barriers involved?

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Why haven’t you published the results in papers?

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What would you say deters projects or persons from publishing results?

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Did you share some testing data of the prototypes?

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Did companies who produced it share any of this testing data?

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Successes and Failures

We managed to build the product ! The project grew really fast. We were able to solve a lot of the local issues, and create it using locally available material (apart from the zeolite). We were able to build services in terms of repairing it within the country as well.

But we didn’t manage to figure out how to scale, in medical devices production, while following a certain quality assurance. We were trying to figure out how to create a system where we are able to make it easier for folks to recreate the certification in different phases.

What was successful about the project and what wasn’t?

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What is the success you see today?

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Core team and community

I would say about 10 to 15 in the core team but overall, it has been about 50.

I would say some technicians, makers, engineers and people with a design background as well. As I mentioned, some have diving backgrounds. Last we have some manufacturers and industrial doctors.

What made you work on this project?

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How many members have contributed to the project?

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What were their occupations? Possible examples are researchers, postdocs, technicians, students, professors, practitioners and makers.

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How did you find suitable people with the needed competences?

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Where were you talking about the project, just online?

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Work Coordination

We coordinated it over (daily, or biweekly) calls and over telegram.

How did you coordinate the work between the members of the project?

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Personal gain

I think all of us got to learn a lot in terms of the function of devices and how to make it.

There was a lot of attention and publicity about it. We were able to raise a few grants during that time.

How have the members who provided the inputs benefited from the work and the project?

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Have the participants perceived some personal or monetary rewards?

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How did you benefit yourself?

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What was the actual impact of the project?

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