Ford will start producing respirator masks and other equipment for health care workers

Ford announced that production of a new type of pressurized respirator face mask for health care workers will begin on Tuesday.

The mask, called a Powered Air-Purifying Respirator, or PAPR, is being developed in partnership with 3M.

A PAPR is a clear mask that fits over the entire face. Air is drawn in through a tube connected to a pump that filters contaminants from the air.

In late March, Ford and 3M announced they were working on a new mask using parts from both companies’ products. For example, the new mask uses a type of fan usually used in ventilated car seats.

About 90 paid volunteers, members of the United Auto Workers union, will assemble the masks at Ford’s Vreeland facility near Flat Rock, Michigan. The factory will be able to make 100,000 or more masks, according to Ford. The company did not disclose when that number of masks would be available, however.

Ford said it is also working with automotive airbag supplier, Joyson Safety Systems, to produce reusable gowns for health care workers. The gowns will be made from material usually used to make airbags.

Ford expects to make 75,000 gowns a week by Sunday and scale up to 100,000 gowns for the week of April 19 and beyond

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