Ford Motor Co. plans to build respirators, ventilators and face shields in partnership with its UAW work force, manufacturing company 3M and GE Healthcare to aid medical workers as the coronavirus pandemic threatens to overwhelm their supply.
On March 24, the automaker said it will use fans from F-150 pickup seats, portable tool battery packs and 3D-printed parts to quickly assemble disposable air purifying respirators alongside 3M at its advanced manufacturing center in Redford Township.
Ford said it initially would be able to make up to 1,000 respirators per month, helping 3M boost production of the respirators tenfold.
In addition, Ford plans to produce up to 100,000 face shields per week, also in Michigan. Roughly 75,000 of these shields are expected to be finished this week, and more than 100,000 face shields per week will be produced at Ford subsidiary Troy Design and Manufacturing's facilities in Plymouth.
Ford also is partnering with GE Healthcare to expand production of a simplified version of GE's ventilator design. Ford said the ventilators could be produced at a Ford manufacturing site in addition to a GE location.
"This is such a critical time for America and the world," Executive Chairman Bill Ford, who announced the plans on NBC's Today show, said in a statement. "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. 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."
Ford joins General Motors and Tesla, which have also announced plans to build medical equipment in the U.S. Ford also is working on another initiative in the United Kingdom with a number of companies in Europe to produce additional ventilators, it said March 24.