Bart Kenyon, engineer at ResMed, talks about developing the S8 sleep apnea device
ResMed S8 AutoSet Spirit flow generator and H3i humidifier with packaging
In 2006 the ResMed S8 sleep apnea flow generator and humidifier received the Australian Design Award of the Year. Bart Kenyon, mechanical team leader for the flow generator talks about the innovative aspects of the device.
'CPAP helps treat obstructive sleep apnea. And what happens there is when the person goes to sleep their upper airway - the back of your nose down to your neck - actually collapses. The muscle tone around that area is not quite what it should be and when you go to sleep that actually collapses down and completely closes off your airway. When that happens you can't breathe, until your brain detects that you're in a bit of trouble and you wake up.'
'What CPAP does is it provides a pressurised supply of air from a machine that sits on the bedside. Air comes down a tube and the person wears a mask. That pressurised air enters the person's nose and just gently pressurises the air way so it gently keeps the airway open.'
'There are quite a few innovative features about the S8 system. The way we have used what's called over-moulding and co-moulding of components in order to isolate the noise. Both the impeller that pressurises the air and the motor both make quite a bit of noise and so you've got to insulate that noise - you don't want that noise getting into a person's bedroom and keeping them awake - that's always a challenge with these devices. But when we had this miniature device to design, you don't have room for traditional ways of insulating the noise. So we came up with an approach where almost every part inside the device, the really important ones, are over-moulded. For example one part there's a plastic moulding but then moulded over that is a rubber coating, and that bonding together of dissimilar materials means that it won't resonate, so that the noise inside won't vibrate the walls and pass the noise outside the device.'
'It's not the first CPAP machine I've worked on at ResMed but in some respects it was quite different in that it was certainly the most challenging. The challenge of making it meet all its functional requirements while reducing in size - I think the reduction was down to one third of the volume of the previous device - to make that work was I think probably the hardest project I have ever worked on. As a result probably the most satisfying as well.'
Bart Kenyon, interview recorded with Powerhouse Museum in June 2006
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