One Size Fits All: OSU helps develop streamlined oxygen concentration filter
Thursday, April 27, 2023
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For many industries, the pandemic started a supply chain crisis that made it difficult to source much needed items.
But for Johnny Rodriguez, a medical industry veteran, that crisis shed light on what was needed even before COVID-19 began. Oxygen concentrator filters were in high demand as the virus severely affected breathing, but there were so many different sizes of filters.
That’s when the idea for a one-size-fits-all oxygen concentrator filter was born.
The Colter Labs Universal Concentrator Filter has the potential to streamline the supply process for manufacturers, distributors and end users for all major oxygen concentrators on the market today.
“The universal filter concept originated from my personal experience working in the industry with existing filters,” Rodriguez said. “We realized how urgently a universal filter was needed and what began as a wish, hoping someone else would create, quickly turned into myself designing a solution to bring to market with the help of Oklahoma State University’s New Product Development Center (NPDC).”
Alfred Salazar, business partner and longtime friend of Rodriguez, first suggested they visit OSU and began the process with Alex Efird at the Wes Watkins Center for International Trade Development. From there, Rodriguez and Salazar were referred to the team at NPDC, an engineering Extension unit of the OSU College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology.
“I had heard great things about the people at OSU and knew they would be pivotal in designing and bringing the filter to market,” Salazar said. “After a few weeks and a couple of meetings, the first prototype was 3D printed in-house at NPDC.”
Before the first prototype was printed, the team discussed many facets of the design that needed to be considered. It was important to the inventors that the filter fit and work in all major oxygen concentrators on the market and in use today.
Rodriguez said the filter has a unique elbow adapter along with another cool feature: special intake sinkholes designed for smoother airflow, with layers of insulation resulting in less noise for patient comfort.
Jennifer Vinyard, senior design engineer at NPDC, completed the design, prototypes and final drawing package for the filter.
“There were a total of seven prototypes designed, tested and printed before the final design met the needs specified and would fit each of the oxygen concentrators on the market,” Vinyard said. “Flow analysis (and other testing) was done with the help of our interns to make sure the design of the filter accomplished its main purpose.”
The Universal Concentrator Filter will benefit the industry twofold.
First, it will diminish inventory overhead by reducing the number of bar codes and open shelving space for distributors, nursing homes and technicians, allowing them to stock a single filter.
It will also solve supply chain challenges. Distributors and dealers alike may substitute a Colter’s filter for the five or six different filters they are currently trying to source to fit a range of oxygen concentrators. This alone will save time and money for patients and professionals.
“I have repaired oxygen concentrators for over 35 years and have always struggled to keep up with and stock the different filters manufacturers require for their concentrators,” Rodriguez said. “Recognizing the need to create a solution to simplify and solve the sourcing and demand challenges I faced would ultimately benefit the industry in its entirety, and that motivated me to keep pushing forward with the project.”
The inventors behind the Universal Concentrator Filter are currently in talks with several home medical equipment distributors and dealers throughout the United States to get their product to the market that needs them most.
“The excitement and response we have received has been phenomenal and greater than we could have expected,” Salazar said. “Working with the team at NPDC has been instrumental in getting our idea to production and now to market. Without their expertise, we would not be where we are today.”
Photos By: Blake Hopp and Jodi Prouty
Story By: Brenna Davis Long | STATE Magazine