Dave Jacek, 3D printing technical, wears a prototype of a 3D-printed medical face shield printed at Ford’s Advanced Manufacturing Center. Credit: Ford
U.S. automakers are rising to the call for help from U.S. first responders in the intensifying battle against COVID-19.
Ford is announcing further efforts and says it is teaming up with UAW along with 3M and GE Healthcare to quickly expand production of urgently needed medical equipment and supplies for healthcare workers, first responders and patients fighting coronavirus. This includes both face masks and protective gear along with respirators needed to save patient lives. Ford says in cooperation with the UAW it will assemble more than 100,000 plastic face shields per week.
“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 Bill Ford, Ford’s executive chairman. “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 team members are working with 3M to increase the manufacturing capacity of their powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) designs and working jointly to develop a new design leveraging parts from both companies to meet the surge demand for first responders and health care workers. This new respirator could be produced in a Ford facility by UAW workers.
Leveraging in-house 3D printing capability. Ford will produce more than 100,000 plastic face shields a week in coordination with the UAW.
Ford is partnering with GM Healthcare to expand production of a simplified version of GE Healthcare’s existing ventilator design to support patients with respiratory failure or difficulty breathing caused by COVID-19. These ventilators could be produced at a Ford manufacturing site in addition to a GE location.
“We are encouraged by how quickly companies from across industries have mobilized to address the growing challenge we collectively face from COVID-19,” said GE Healthcare President & CEO Kieran Murphy. “We are proud to bring our clinical and technical expertise to this collaboration with Ford, working together to serve unprecedented demand for this life-saving technology and urgently support customers as they meet patient needs.”
Work on this initiative ties to a request for help from U.S. government officials.
Respirators and Face Shields:
Ford, in cooperation with the UAW, will assemble more than 100,000 plastic face shields per week at a Ford manufacturing site to help medical professionals, factory workers and store clerks. Ford also will leverage its in-house 3D printing capability to produce components for use in personal protective equipment.
Ford’s U.S. design team also is quickly creating and starting to test transparent full-face shields for medical workers and first responders. The face shields fully block the face and eyes from accidental contact with liquids and when paired with N95 respirators can be a more effective way to limit potential exposure to coronavirus than N95 respirators alone.
Ford says 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. 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, Mich.
Ford says it is leveraging its Advanced Manufacturing Center in Redford, Mich., and in-house 3D printing capabilities to manufacture components and subassemblies for use in personal protective equipment.
Want to help?
Ford has also kicked off a working team to help hospitals locate and secure urgently needed surgical and N95 respirators. Ford has so far committed sending Henry Ford Health Systems 40,000 surgical masks while it locates additional supplies. Additional companies and individuals who are interested in contributing to this effort can submit their information here at www.fordnewideas.com
Ford Plant Closures Update:
Also on Tuesday, Ford announced it will keep its North American plants closed after March 30th, the date the automaker had originally hoped to reopen. Ford says it will reassess the timeline in the coming days. Read the Press Release Here.