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On Tuesday, Ford detailed extraordinary measures it's undertaking as the automaker ramps up efforts to support health care workers on the frontlines. The Blue Oval said it's already started 3D-printing face shields — a critical piece of personal protective gear — for health care workers to help protect them from the virus as they treat patients. The first 1,000 shields already shipped out to local Michigan hospitals for use. By the end of this week, Ford says it will have 75,000 shields complete, and 100,000 shields will roll out of two Ford facilities weekly thereafter.
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In the short term, Ford also has over 200,000 N95 masks it will soon donate to the medical community as it reacquires them from Chinese facilities and other areas of its business.
While work continues on face shields, Ford said it's teamed up with 3M and GE to support the design and manufacturing of respirator masks and life-saving ventilators. With 3M, Ford told its engineers to get scrappy and creative, and they delivered.
Ford and 3M are now working on a powered air-purifying respirator mask design, and the automaker noted UAW workers could build them in one of the automaker's facilities. Both companies scanned through Ford parts and plucked components for the design, which includes fans from an F-150's ventilated seats for airflow and a portable battery to keep the respirators powered for eight hours at a time. 3M HEPA air filters keep COVID-19 droplets at bay and health care workers safe as they treat patients.
The automaker will also work with GE Healthcare and said it continues to collaborate on a simplified design for ventilators, machines that help patients breathe. Again, Ford said this new design could be built at a Ford plant in addition to a GE facility.