Ford, 3M begin shipping respirators to health workers

Ford, with design and testing consultation from 3M, and close coordination with the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has developed a new powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR).


Ford Motor is beginning to deliver powered air-purifying respirators to frontline health care workers battling the coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the country, the automaker said Wednesday.

Since late March, Ford has been working with 3M to create the personal protection equipment, using design guidance from 3M.

Approximately 90 paid volunteers from the United Auto Workers union have assembled more than 10,000 of the respirators at a Ford facility near Flat Rock, Michigan, according to the automaker. Ford said the facility has the ability to make 100,000 or more respirators, however the company has declined to provide a timeframe for such production.

Ford Motor employee Pat Tucker, 55, assembles face shields for healthcare workers on April 2, 2020 at a subsidiary facility of the automaker in Plymouth, Michigan.


3M is selling and distributing the Ford-designed respirators through 3M-authorized distributors. Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle is the first customer to order and take delivery of the Ford-built supplies, the automaker said.

3M and Ford say they will donate any profits they earn from the medical equipment sales to Covid-19 related nonprofit organizations.

The newly designed respirators include a hood and face shield to cover head and shoulders, while a high-efficiency filter system provides a supply of filtered air for up to eight hours. The air blower system, Ford says, is similar to the fan found in a Ford F-150 pickup’s ventilated seats. It is powered by a rechargeable, portable battery, helping keep the respirator in constant use by first-line defenders.

The respirator production is in addition to the company’s other efforts to assist health-care workers, first responders and patients fighting Covid-19. The company also is producing millions of face shields, more than 12 million thus far, and reusable gowns and ventilators with GE Healthcare.

Ford said Wednesday that suppliers are now producing 200,000 gowns a week, and more than 400,000 gowns have been shipped by Ford to medical workers around the country.

General Electric and Ford are expected to produce 50,000 ventilators for the U.S. government under the Defense Production Act for $336 million.

Approximately 90 paid UAW volunteers have assembled more than 10,000 respirators at a Ford facility in Michigan


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