Ford, with design and testing consultation from 3M, and close coordination with the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has developed a new powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR).
Ford Motor will begin producing new powered air-purifying respirators this week to assist in protecting health-care workers from Covid-19.
The automaker said Monday that production of the respirators, which were developed by Ford in collaboration with 3M, will begin Tuesday at one of the automaker’s plants in suburban Detroit. The work will be done by about 90 paid volunteers from the United Auto Workers union.
The facility, Ford said, will have the ability to make 100,000 or more respirators.
The newly designed respirators include a hood and face shield to cover head and shoulders, while a high-efficiency filter system provides a supply of filtered air for up to eight hours. The air blower system, Ford says, is similar to the fan found in a Ford F-150 pickup’s ventilated seats. It is powered by a rechargeable, portable battery, helping keep the respirator in constant use by first-line defenders.
Ford said it expects to receive temporary, limited National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health approval for the respirators by the end of April. Pending approval, 3M will distribute the respirators through its U.S. network.
Ford declined to disclose pricing for the units.
The respirator production is in addition to the company’s other efforts to assist health-care workers, first responders and patients fighting the coronavirus. The company also is producing face shields, more than 3 million thus far, and reusable gowns and plans to produce ventilators with GE Healthcare.
The company also said it is now producing face masks for internal use globally and pursuing certification for medical use at another plant near Detroit.
Ford announced the efforts hours after the company warned investors about first-quarter losses and a nearly 16% dive in revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic.