With help from 3M and GE Healthcare.
Last week, President Donald Trump said his administration was in talks with Ford and General Motors to build medical equipment to help hospitals cope with the COVID-19 outbreak. Tesla also volunteered to help build the equipment but it now looks like Ford will be the first automaker to take up the call, according to the company's announcement on Tuesday.
Ford has just announced it will partner with 3M and GE Healthcare to manufacture 3M Powered Air-Purifying Respirators (PAPRs) and versions of GE ventilators. It will also work with the United Auto Workers to produce plastic face shields at its TDM subsidiary in Michigan and leverage its 3D printing capability to make personal protective equipment such as disposable respirators.
Ford is currently working in collaboration with 3M to create a new design for the Powered Air-Purifying Respirators, leveraging parts from both companies. In fact, one of the design sketches for the respirators uses the seat blower from a Ford F-150 pickup truck. Ford and GE Healthcare are also working on a simplified version of the company's existing ventilator design.
"This is such a critical time for America and the world. It is a time for action and cooperation. By coming together across multiple industries, we can make a real difference for people in need and for those on the front lines of this crisis," said executive chairman, Bill Ford. "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."
"We're exploring all available opportunities to further expand 3M's capacity and get healthcare supplies as quickly as possible to where they're needed most - which includes partnering with other great companies like Ford," said Mike Roman, 3M chairman of the board and chief executive officer. "It's crucial that we mobilize all resources to protect lives and defeat this disease, and I'm incredibly grateful to Ford and their employees for this partnership."
While the ventilators and respirators are being designed, Ford will work quickly to make transparent full-face shields for medical workers and first responders. The first 1,000 face shields will be tested this week at Detroit Mercy, Henry Ford Health Systems and Detroit Medical Center Sinai-Grace Hospitals. Over 75,000 shields are expected to be produced this week while over 100,000 will be produced per week when Ford reaches full capacity.