Q&A with Amy Kavalewitz and Danny Blacker of Rice University

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | June 19, 2020
From the May 2020 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Danny Blacker
HCB News: I read that the price tag is less than $300 for the parts and materials to make this device. What other initial investments are needed for its creation?
Danny Blacker: This assumes that you have some type of small prototyping device like a 3D printer. You can probably get away without a laser cutter — that’s what we used to make the box itself, but you can probably get away without it. The 3D printer is important, but everything else is stuff you can get from off the shelf.
AK: These are made using remote control car motors.

HCB News: Like servos?
AK: Exactly. And little gears and parts like that.
DB: What it started with — we wanted to take apart a 3D printer and reconfigure it in a way that it could make this. But the motors just don’t have the torque needed, and they’re also extremely power hungry. So we made a switch midstream and it worked out for the best.
AK: We’ve done a lot of tests with the motors because the originals were heating up. We’ve now had one running for over 91 hours and it’s staying steady.

Danny Blacker, left, and Fernando Cruz, staffers at Rice University's Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen, assemble a prototype of the ApolloBVM bag valve mask automation device.
(Credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University)
HCB News: In an ideal situation where you have a reasonable 3-D printer, maybe the laser cutter, how long would it take to build a device for someone who knows what they’re doing?
DB: If you have one printer, it would probably take a day or two to print all the parts, but in the meantime, you could be constructing other pieces and getting your other parts completed. You can probably have it built in three days. If you have all the parts, you can probably build it in a day.

HCB News: Where did the name ApolloBVM come from?
AK: I think the students started calling it the Apollo project. But there’s a connection with Rice and President Kennedy doing the speech here about sending astronauts to the moon.

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