Bubble CPAP Machine v2.0

The author cutting some wood for his prototype


Acute respiratory infections are the leading cause of global child mortality. 20–38% of deaths in the first 48 hours of life are attributed to respiratory failure. Moreover, complications associated with premature birth, often related to breathing problems, are responsible for an additional 30% of neonatal mortality.

In the developed world, bubble Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is a gentle and effective tool to manage babies in respiratory distress. Hospitals use tubing, wall air, and oxygen to set up bubble CPAP at the bedside. Pressure is safely and simply regulated by submerging the end of the tubing in a bottle of water. The depth of the tube in the water determines the pressure in the system.  These lifesaving technologies are too expensive and resource-intensive for most of the developing world. As a result, RDS remains one of the most common causes of the 3 million annual neonatal deaths in the developing world. Deploying a low cost, easy to use and portable bubble CPAP machine in developing countries will greatly reduce fatality of newborn babies. . The need is particularly acute on the African continent, which has the second highest number of preterm births. 

Bubble CPAP v1

The initial version of the bubble CPAP machine developed at the DIT Design Studio was a simple design with simple construction and included only the most essential components. It was designed during our Industrial Practical Training/Lemelson Internship of 2021. It included the air pump for the air supply whereas the source of oxygen was the central oxygen supply system at the hospitals. No additional components were included to improve the  quality of the supplied mixture of air and oxygen. 

The first version of the Bubble CPAP machine

Building V2

A lot of improvements have been carried out in the second version of the locally built bubble CPAP machine. Ergonomics, aesthetics and durability of the design have been improved to a great extent. In addition to that, more advanced techniques have been used to design the housing of the machine. The most recognizable technique has been the bending of the acrylic material to form smooth curves in the housing design.

Improvements Made in the Second Version

  • Addition of humidifier to improve quality of air supplied
  • Detachable oxygen supply pipe
  • Improved calibration of the air supply
  • Outlet port compatible with any size of nasal cannulas
  • Better light indicator
  • Better quality of pipes and connections used
  • Higher capacity and pressure of the air pump used
  • Improved maintainability as the system can easily be disassembled and reassembled
  • Better quality of water level measurement
  • Better material used for the housing (Acrylic instead of plywood)

Equipment Purchased

All of the equipment and material used in this project have been purchased locally and are easily available in Tanzania. The following are some of the most essential equipment that have been purchased to be used in this project;

  • Aquarium pump
  • Standard oxygen connector (BS 56822)
  • Oxygen Flow meter
  • Humidifier bottle
  • Pneumatic pipes
  • Pneumatic connectors (T & L type)
  • Pipe reducers
  • Electric appliances (indicator light, switch and wires)
  • Acrylic (3mm)
  • Fasteners (Screws, Bolts & Nuts)



Bubble CPAP v2 showing custom curved acrylic scaffolding


The first version had been presented to the doctors at the Muhimbili Hospital of Pediatric intensive Care    Unit (PICU), the project had been significantly appraised. With the improvements done in the second version, this project could actively be used in hospitals. The cost of production does not exceed 800,000TZS per unit, and therefore it can easily be produced and procured in large numbers.


< Arslan at work

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