Moving to increase supplies of N95 respirators during the COVID-19 pandemic, the US Department of Defense (DOD) recently awarded two new contracts to industrial solutions firm 3M to increase manufacturing of the protective face coverings in the United States.
Brokered under the Defense Production Act, the contracts stipulate that 3M will manufacture 39 million N95 respirators in US plants, the company said in a press release Thursday.
To accommodate the additional capacity, 3M said it is acquiring new equipment used in the production of the masks. The equipment is currently being constructed in Wisconsin and will be installed in 3M’s Aberdeen, SD personal protective equipment (PPE) production plant.
“3M is working around the clock to get much-needed personal protective equipment ot the nation’s frontline healthcare workers,” the firm’s chairman and chief executive officer, Mike Roman, said in a statement. “Being selected for these contracts will allow us to increase our manufacturing capability even more. We thank the Trump Administration and the Department of Defense for their close collaboration on this effort and share their goal of protecting the American public.”
The St. Paul, MN-based company also recently committed $80 million to expand N95 respirator production across its global footprint to 1.1 billion/yr, including 35 million/yr in the US. With the contracts, 3M said its total global capacity for the product will reach about 2 billion/yr.
Officials from the Trump Administration worked with 3M to secure imports of 166.5 million respirators from the company’s plants in Asia.