Ford now making face shields, respirators

Henrietta Brewer
March 25, 2020

In its drive to fill the gap in medical gear, Ford has joined forces with General Electric's (GE) health care division and 3M.

In a statement, Ford CEO Jim Hackett said "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".

Meanwhile, GM, Ventec Life Systems and, coordinated private-sector response to COVID-19, are collaborating so that Ventec can increase its production of respiratory care products as hospitals across the USA face a potential ventilator shortage.

Ford has partnered with GE HealthCare and 3M to create more medical equipment and supplies for healthcare workers, first responders and patients.

Teams are also working jointly to develop a new PAPR design using parts like fans borrowed from the Ford F-150's cooled seats, 3M HEPA air filters and portable tool battery packs to power these respirators for up to eight hours.

Ford is looking at how it might produce these new-generation PAPRs in one of its MI manufacturing facilities, helping 3M boost production potentially tenfold.

Ford is joining relief efforts along with General Motors Co., which said Monday it's exploring the feasibility of building ventilators for Ventec Life Systems one of its auto-parts plants in IN, and Tesla Inc., which purchased more than 1,200 of the medical devices from China and is now distributing them. "At Ford, we feel a deep obligation to step up and contribute in times of need, just as we always have through the 117-year history of our company".

Meanwhile, Fiat Chrysler Automobile NV (FCA) told employees in an email that the Italian-American automaker would start converting one of its plants in China to ultimately make over one million masks a month to help combat the coronavirus outbreak.

The partnership with GE Healthcare focuses on a simplified version of the company's existing ventilator.

Last but not least, Ford is pumping out transparent full-face shields for medical workers and first responders.

"We're testing face shields this week in Detroit-area hospitals to make sure they work and then we can ramp up pretty quickly", Ford said.

Approximately 75,000 face shields will be built this week and Ford expects to be able to build more than 100,000 weekly at their Troy Design and Manufacturing subsidiary in Plymouth, Michigan.

Ford said that his company is trying to "dramatically increase" the production of N95 respirators. Ford has so far committed sending Henry Ford Health Systems 40,000 surgical masks while it locates additional supplies.

Details: Ford is working on multiple fronts to help the companies increase production of their own products, and innovating some of its own solutions.

Earlier, Tesla CEO Elon Musk wrote that his company would produce ventilators if there is a shortage, saying in a separate statement that plans for production were already underway at Tesla factories.

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