Following Ford’s announcement of its partnership with manufacturing company 3M in late March, the automaker announced it is now ready to begin building respirators.
The two companies are reportedly working on a new design to produce a powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) on top of the reusable medical gowns that Ford will also make using airbag material.
The PAPRs will be built out of Ford’s Vreeland plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, where the company said it can handle production of 100,000 units.
The new design for this particular respirator includes a hood and face shield to provide protection for the head and shoulders. It also uses fans from the F-150’s cooled seating system as well as 3M’s HEPA air filters to supply air for up to eight hours.
Ford and 3M are expecting federal approval of the units later this month.
“By working collaboratively with 3M to quickly combine more than 100 years of Ford manufacturing and engineering expertise with personal protection equipment design and expertise, we’re getting much-needed technology into the hands of frontline medical workers to help when they need it most,” said Marcy Fisher, Director for Ford’s Global Body Exterior and Interior Engineering, in a statement.
Aside from building respirators and producing reusable medical gowns, Ford is also teaming up with Thermo Fisher Scientific to expand the production of COVID-19 collection kits.
Ford said it is expecting to produce 100,000 reusable gowns a week beginning April 19.
By the week of April 20, the automaker will also begin ventilator production at its Rawsonville facility in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The company is working with GE to build 50,000 ventilators by July 4.
Ford has also shipped 3 million face masks as of April 10 after beginning production in late March.