DESIGN FOR A SIMPLE
EFFECTIVE BABY INCUBATOR
This baby incubator is the result of a search for a
cheap, simple, safe device for nursing premature
and sick babies. In areas of many developing
countries air temperature and humidity are low,
conditions which may be fatal to small babies. In
addition the risks of infection are lowered if an
incubator is properly used.
Five of the incubators described here have been
in use at Mvumi Hospital in Tanzania for over
three years and have proved satisfactory.
The central feature of the incubator is a group of
four standard electric light bulbs which control
temperature, humidity, and circulation of the air.
1. Temperature - Two bulbs are each 40
watts and are alight constantly. The
other two are each 100 watts and switched on and off by a thermostat. (In our models
a GalIenkamp Compenstat type TM 500).
2. In this way up to three bulbs can burn out and there will still be at least 40 watts of
heat - sufficient to maintain an adequate temperature for a short period.
3. Humidity - is provided by a tray containing water, mounted over the light bulbs and
heated by them. It is designed to minimise the risk of water spilling over the bulbs
and can be filled while the incubator is operating, by lifting a cover at the front.
Circulation of air is by simple convection. Air enters through an insect-wire screen beneath the
light bulbs, rises as it is warmed and escapes through screened holes in the top of the canopy.
No circulating fan is necessary.
Points in Construction: The canopy is made of ¼” Perspex which can be cut with a fine saw
and can be bent to shape as follows:
The Perspex is placed on a wooden bench, the edge of the bench under the line along which
the Perspex is to be bent, and a weight (e.g. bricks) holding it down on the bench. It is then
slowly heated by moving a gas burner back and forth along the line until it softens and can be
bent to 90°. It must be held in this position until it cools, e.g. by packing a heavy cupboard
against it. The ends of the canopy are cut to shape and can be attached with a glue made by
dissolving pieces of Perspex in enough chloroform or acetone to make a very thick solution -
best applied with an old hypodermic syringe. Corner brackets of aluminium or brass are
necessary. The best hinges for the canopy and its doors are brass piano hinges, but
any available type will do.
Practical Action, The Schumacher Centre, Bourton on Dunsmore, Rugby, Warwickshire, CV23 9QZ, UK
T +44 (0)1926 634400 | F +44 (0)1926 634401 | E firstname.lastname@example.org | W www.practicalaction.org
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Patron HRH The Prince of Wales, KG, KT, GCB