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The 3M Company will soon release newly designed powered air-purifying respirators that have been developed by the engineering experts at Ford. These respirators are en route to health care workers on the front line of the coronavirus crisis, 3M said in a statement Wednesday.
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“We are dedicated to helping support and protect the health care workers fighting COVID-19,” said Bernard Cicut, the vice president of the 3M Personal Safety Division. “We thank Ford for partnering with us to quickly develop and deliver more of these critical health care supplies to the heroes working on the frontlines of this unprecedented health crisis.”
The two companies began working together in late March and brought the critical pieces of equipment to fruition in 40 days. More than 10,000 respirators are ready to be shipped from Ford’s Vreeland facility near Flat Rock, Michigan.
“Ford could not stand by while health care workers in this country placed their lives on the line to help others without even having proper protection,” said Jim Baumbick, the vice president of Ford Enterprise Product Line Management. “That’s why we kicked off an all-out sprint to protect those who are so selflessly helping patients afflicted with this terrible virus.”
3M and Ford received guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory. The devices have received temporary approval under NIOSH’s limited-use protocol due to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic.
The respirators, which are named Ford Limited-Use Public Health Emergency PAPR, are built with a hood and face shield to cover the heads and shoulders of health care professionals. When worn, a high-efficiency filter system pumps in a supply of purified air for up to eight hours on a single battery charge. Moreover, the air blower system is built around fan components found in Ford F-150’s ventilated seats, which is powered by a rechargeable and portable battery, so health care providers can keep their respirators in constant use.
Demand for 3M PAPRs is exceeding the company’s supply, which is what ultimately led to its partnership with Ford, 3M said in the press release. The 3M Company plans to increase its PAPR capacity by tenfold in the next several months.
The Ford Limited-Use Public Health Emergency PAPR will be sold and distributed by 3M. Only select 3M-authorized U.S. distributors will be allowed to quickly and efficiently deploy these new respirators to health care workers. Technical support will also be provided to health care workers so they can use the PAPRs properly.
Both 3M and Ford will donate any profits earned from the sale of the new respirators to coronavirus-related nonprofit organizations.