Scottish university fab boosts ventilator sensor supply

April 30, 2020 //By Nick Flaherty
The Scottish Microelectronics Centre (SMC) is helping two technology companies to manufacture critical ventilator parts for use in intensive care units during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Scottish Microelectronics Centre (SMC) is helping two technology companies to manufacture critical ventilator parts for use in intensive care units during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The SMC is a research facility based in the School of Engineering at the University of Edinburgh and ordinarily works with a range of commercial and academic clients, specialising in MEMS (micro-electromechanical system), semiconductor, and nano fabrication. It is currently supporting two medical equipment companies, Druck and Pyreos, to meet greatly increased demand for specialist sensors.

Druck, a Leicestershire-based firm which is part of Baker Hughes, develops and manufactures highly accurate pressure sensing devices and instruments. These are used to test medical support equipment for pressure leaks before it reaches NHS hospitals and are found in a range of devices and systems that require pressure or suction while operating, such as ventilators, blood pressure monitoring systems, and anaesthetic instrumentation. 

“Demand for medical products has increased several times over in just a few weeks,” said Andrew Wallace, CEO at Pyreos. “Orders for our medical and related products have already locked in 50 percent annual growth at Pyreos in just the first few months of the year. We value the SMC’s openness to quickly agreeing safe working practices and providing a way to accelerate production. With the SMC’s support, we are helping customers meet the global demand for ventilators and ancillary equipment.”

The company is using SMC to produce the sensors currently found in PACE 5000/6000-equipped ventilators and UNIK5000 sensors for Covid-19 testing kits.

Pyreos, based in Edinburgh, is another business which uses the facility’s cleanroom facilities and services to produce specialist sensors for healthcare applications. These proprietary sensors are used both for anaesthesia and capnography to monitor the concentration or partial pressure of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Pyreos is one of only a handful of global suppliers of the core gas sensors for capnography. Demand from existing customers in Europe and Asia has grown by several multiples, while more of the global top-five suppliers have also approached the company to start urgent projects.

Employees of both companies have been recognised by the UK government as key workers during the


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