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Hamilton man converts factory, farming equipment to create ventilators for hospitals worldwide

A Hamilton man has repurposed parts of his plastics factory to build ventilators for hospitals here and overseas.  

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The ventilators will be used in hospitals here and overseas. Source: 1 NEWS

It started with neighbourly banter and has now become a full-scale production line, and farmers may recognise some of the parts.

Jeff Sharp teamed up with his neighbours, two doctors, as concerns grew about the state of New Zealand's equipment to cope with Covid-19.

His neighbours suggested PPE, but he had bigger ideas.

"After discussing those he said, 'Well you know you've got to give me something more difficult. How hard is it to make a ventilator?'" emergency physician Dr Martyn Harvey told 1 NEWS.

Dr Harvey had an old one in his office and gave it to Mr Sharp. A day later, he'd pulled it to bits and told them he could make it better.

"We're lucky that the UK government, the Australian government and now the Canadian government had all put out a set of design specifications for companies like us to rapidly produce ventilators," Mr Sharp says.

When it comes to electronics, the circuit boards from milking sheds might just do the trick.

"Milk Tech NZ, our partner company here who has dairy automation equipment, I think we can repurpose some of their electronics and componentry," Mr Sharp says.

He reckons they can make 100 ventilators a day at fraction of the cost.  

It could have worldwide impacts, neighbour and emergency medicine specialist Dr Giles Chanwai says.

"Our Pacific island neighbours, they lack ventilators, and with Jeff we think that we can make a pandemic and disaster ventilator."

His company is spending $10,000 a day on developing the prototype and he's hoping the government will stump up some cash.

"I've got my designer Nick Lee working at the moment and myself, we've been doing a tag team approach on the design for two weeks [with] 16-18 hour days."

One of his ventilators has been ticking for 14 consecutive days, a test of ingenuity and neighbourly relations.