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During the COVID-19 pandemic, American ingenuity has stepped up to alleviate shortages and desperate needs, particularly in the medical field. Over at Ford, F-150 truck parts are being used to create much-needed respirators to help hospital workers combat the virus.
The parts will be used to help 3M redesign the powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) so that first responders and health care workers will be protected from the virus when treating patients. Take a look at the prototype:
Another look at a go-fast hood prototype for the PAPR (papper) that Ford is working on with 3M to help protect medical workers by filtering the air they breathe. Clockspeed is in days and hours! #BuiltFordProud pic.twitter.com/cS1dc6Oagc
— Mike Levine (@mrlevine) March 24, 2020
“The new device incorporates a fan normally used for ventilated F-150 seats, 3M HEPA filters and power tool batteries for portability,” reports Fox News. “Ford is looking into the feasibility of manufacturing them at an initial rate of 1,000 units per month at the Advanced Manufacturing Center, where it currently 3D-prints brake parts for the Mustang Shelby GT500, with plans to quickly expand production beyond that number.”
Beyond the respirators, Ford will also be partnering with GE healthcare to build simplified ventilators and will be producing “transparent face shields” that will protect healthcare providers from body fluids while treating patients. Those face shields can be manufactured at a rate 100,000 per week starting next week.
Speaking with “Today,” Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford said that the company will be doing this on its own without government persuasion or takeover.
“We’re doing it on our own. Obviously the White House has put a call out for companies to help but, frankly, we were doing this, getting all this in motion before that,” said the chairman. “We’re so happy to help and we’re going to do absolutely everything we can…We haven’t talked to anybody about any kind of reimbursement or anything like that.”
Ingenuity from the private sector has stepped up in recent days, with multiple businesses changing course to manufacture needed products to help combat the virus. For example, apron brand Hedley & Bennett managed to keep paying their employees by shifting operations to create surgical masks for healthcare workers. They were not the only fashion brand to do so.
From Fast Company:
Hedley & Bennett is one of several fashion and apparel brands pivoting their businesses to start making personal protective gear. Hanes, the American conglomerate known for its cotton underwear, announced it would retrofit its manufacturing operations to produce masks. Siriano is using his team of 10 seamstresses to make masks full time. And Dov Charney, the former head of American Apparel and founder of Los Angeles Apparel, has deployed his company’s manufacturing facilities to start producing masks and gowns. Smaller labels, such as Michael Costello and Karla Colletto Swimwear, have also announced they will make masks.
Simultaneously, billionaire Elon Musk followed up on his promise and delivered up to 1,000 ventilators to the state of California on Monday.
“China had an oversupply, so we bought 1255 FDA-approved ResMed, Philips & Medtronic ventilators on Friday night & airshipped them to LA. If you want a free ventilator installed, please let us know!” Musk tweeted. “Thanks Tesla China team, China Customs Authority & LAX customs for acting so swiftly.”
Though President Trump invoked the “Defense Production Act,” which allows him to ask manufactures to create needed equipment, he has resisted actually activating it, arguing that the private sector are already doing their part. However, on Tuesday, FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor said the administration will formally use the act to produce thousands of COVID-19 test kits.
“So, just a little while ago my team came in, and we’re actually going to use the DPA for first time today,” Gaynor told CNN.