3M is partnering with Cummins to increase the production of high efficiency particulate filters for use in 3M’s powered air purifying respirators, or PAPRs.
The partnership has the potential to more than double the current production of filters for 3M’s PAPRs. The additional filters are needed as 3M has ramped up production of PAPRs to meet a surge in demand for personal protective equipment due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
3M’s PAPRs are an important piece of personal protective equipment for front-line healthcare workers. 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.
Guided by a 3M design, employees in Cummins’ facility in Neillsville, Wisconsin, 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 Mike Roman, 3M chairman of the board and chief executive officer. “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,” said Tom Linebarger, chairman and chief executive officer of Cummins. “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.”
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 percent increase from current levels.
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, 3M announced a separate partnership with Ford to increase the production of PAPRs. 3M continues to explore opportunities to further expand its capacity and get healthcare supplies to where they’re needed most as quickly as possible.