Ford Motor Company said it was working with 3M and GE Healthcare to make ventilators, face shields, and Powered Air-Purifying Respirators (PAPRs) for use by first-responders and healthcare workers as a surge of coronavirus patients hits the U.S. hospital system.
In a statement, Ford said it planned to assemble more than 100,000 of the face shields per week. The company is also collaborating with 3M on a new PAPR design and helping increase production of 3M’s current respirator.
Ford and 3M are also working together to increase production of 3M’s existing N95 mask.
The automaker is working with GE Healthcare to increase production of ventilators and using 3D printers at its Advanced Manufacturing Center to create disposable air-filtering respirator masks at an initial rate of 1,000 per month.
“Working with 3M and GE, we have empowered our teams of engineers and designers to be scrappy and creative to quickly help scale up production of this vital equipment,” Ford chief executive officer Jim Hackett said. “We’ve been in regular dialogue with federal, state and local officials to understand the areas of greatest needs.”
GM has said it is considering producing ventilators at its electronics plant in Kokomo, Indiana, while Medtronic has said it has had discussions with Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on ventilators.
“Medtronic will work with Tesla and others to try and solve this ventilator supply challenge,” a Medtronic spokesperson said.
Musk bought 1,255 FDA-approved ventilators from China on Friday and shipped them to the United States for distribution to hospitals in need.
On Saturday, in a White House press conference, Vice President Mike Pence said the federal government had ordered “hundreds of millions” of N95s for use by medical professionals, but he did not say when the equipment would be delivered.
The Department of Health and Human Services has said the U.S. would need 3.5 billion masks in the event of a year’s long pandemic.