Ford is moving into new medical technology to battle COVID-19 pandemic

  • Ford is working with 3M to manufacture a portable, battery-powered respirator that uses technology found in Ford F-150 pickup trucks.
  • Ford is also making face shields, face masks, and medical gowns to help combat the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
  • And Ford is working on developing a COVID-19 test kit.
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On Monday, Ford announced further expansions into medical technology, to help in the fight against the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to face shields, masks, and ventilators — the last of which is a collaboration with GE Healthcare — Ford said that it would start production on a powered air-purifying respirator on Tuesday, April 14, working with 3M. The company is also helping Thermo Fisher Scientific develop a COVID-19 test kit.

“We knew that to play our part helping combat coronavirus, we had to go like hell and join forces with experts like 3M to expand production of urgently needed medical equipment and supplies,” Ford vice-president Jim Baumbick said in a statement.

“In just three weeks, we’ve unleashed our world-class manufacturing, purchasing and design talent to get scrappy and start making personal protection equipment and help increase the availability and production of ventilators.”

Ford is also manufacturing masks and medical gowns.


Ford also said that it has partnered with a company called Joyson Safety Systems to make reusable medical gowns from materials normally used for vehicle airbags.

Ford said that the new respirator, which still required regulatory approval, would include a “hood and face shield to cover health care professionals’ heads and shoulders, while a high-efficiency (HEPA) filter system provides a supply of filtered air for up to eight hours.”

The device uses an air blower that’s similar to what Ford uses for the F-150 pickup truck’s ventilated seats; it’s battery powered and portable.

“Approximately 90 paid United Auto Workeres volunteers will assemble [respirators] at Ford’s Vreeland facility near Flat Rock, MI, with the ability to make 100,000 or more,” the company said.

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