3M (NYSE:MMM) announced today it is working with diesel engine manufacturer Cummins to more than double production of high-efficiency particulate filters for use in 3M’s powered air purifying respirators, or PAPRs.
3M said it needs the filters for the additional PAPRs it is manufacturing to meet a surge in demand for personal protective equipment due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
PAPRs use a battery-powered blower that sends filtered air into a hood or head top that covers the head or face, and can provide increased levels of respiratory protection, especially for critical healthcare situations such as aerosol-generating procedures. PAPRs may also be more comfortable to wear for those who need respiratory protection for long periods of time, according to the company.
Guided by a 3M design, employees in Cummins’ facility in Neillsville, Wis., will use existing equipment typically used for producing diesel engine filters to make the PAPR filters. After assembly and testing, the filters will be sent to 3M’s plant in Valley, Nebraska, where the company’s PAPRs are manufactured. Production of the filters at Cummins Neillsville location is expected to begin by the end of April.
“3M continues to work around the clock to get personal protective equipment, including PAPRs, to the heroic healthcare workers and first responders on the frontlines of the COVID-19 fight,” said 3M CEO Mike Roman in a news release. “Our partnership with Cummins will help us produce more of this critical equipment in the coming months.”
“Cummins has been striving to find out ways to help during the COVID-19 crisis,” added Cummins CEO Tom Linebarger. “Working with 3M, we discovered that our technologies and manufacturing expertise could be relevant as we partner in new ways to help protect healthcare professionals.”
3M is also working with the Trump administration on a plan to import 166.5 million 3M respirators from its overseas manufacturing facilities, starting this month. In March, the company announced a separate partnership with Ford to increase the production of PAPRs.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, 3M has increased production of critical safety and healthcare products at its manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and around the world. Beginning in January, 3M ramped up production of N95 and other respirators and doubled its global output to 1.1 billion per year — including 35 million a month in the United States. 3M has already put into motion additional investments and actions that will enable it to double its capacity again to 2 billion globally within 12 months, with additional capacity to begin coming online in the next 60 to 90 days. In the United States, 3M expects to produce N95 respirators at a rate of 50 million per month in June, a 40% increase from current levels.