SAN RAFAEL, Calif. — Autodesk Inc. has announced that Huntair Inc. has utilized Autodesk’s software to develop a unique new airflow delivery system that has the potential to reduce healthcare-acquired infections.

Huntair, headquartered in Tualatin, Ore., and a leader in airflow management, leveraged both Autodesk Simulation CFD and Autodesk Inventor software to develop its CLEANSUITE system that is inspired by cleanrooms used in the semiconductor and pharmaceutical industries.

With healthcare-acquired infections claiming 99,000 lives in the United States annually and costing the U.S. healthcare system billions of dollars, says the company, the CLEANSUITE system is designed to help avoid contamination of patients in an operating room by delivering a controlled stream of low-turbulence, temperature-controlled, and HEPA-filtered air over the operating table. As a result, airborne contaminants have less chance of reaching the patient undergoing surgery.

While most systems rely on multiple diffusers to deliver air, the CLEANSUITE system uses a single diffuser approach. Huntair created computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models in Autodesk Simulation CFD software to better understand the performance of the system before anything was built.

“Autodesk CFD Simulation software helped us understand what is actually going on with airflow in the operating room versus what should be happening theoretically,” said Kevin Schreiber, global director of healthcare for Huntair. “As a result, we were able to optimize our design to minimize turbulence and control the direction of the air in the operating room, allowing for improved contamination control over the sterile surgical setting.”

Engineers also relied on Autodesk Simulation CFD models to test the CLEANSUITE system’s air temperature control. Standard air temperature in a hospital can vary as much as 10°F due to the thermal effects of lights and people. Engineers optimized the CLEANSUITE system to maintain a steady temperature from when air enters the room, to when it reaches the patient.

Huntair used the Autodesk Inventor software to model the modular, ceiling-hung CLEANSUITE system with integrated filtration, electrical, piping, and structural equipment supports.

“With this approach, we not only have airflow and air delivery, but also a UL-listed light fixture and a structural interface between equipment, light booms, and the building structure. Nobody else is doing anything like it for the operating room environment,” said Schreiber.

Huntair also uses Autodesk Inventor software to market CLEANSUITE and show the model to customers.

“Because not everyone has CAD ability, we can use Inventor software files and create a 3D PDF document for our customers to view the model. It’s amazing and they love it,” said Schreiber.

Huntair’s new system has already gained considerable support in the healthcare industry. The company has built and installed more than a dozen CLEANSUITE systems for healthcare providers and is now working on designs for several other healthcare facilities, including ambulatory surgery centers.

“The combination of Autodesk Simulation CFD and Autodesk Inventor offers fast, accurate, and innovative analysis and modeling capabilities,” said Brenda Discher, vice president, Manufacturing Industry Strategy and Marketing at Autodesk. “By applying these capabilities upfront in product development — where decision-making is critical — Huntair’s system is changing the healthcare industry and has the potential to save thousands of lives.”

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Publication date: 10/22/2012