3M mask

DoD Invests in Fight Against COVID-19

April 23, 2020
A contract award by the DoD to 3M and two other suppliers will help them to boost the production of N95 masks in the fight against the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

By investing $133 million in three U.S. businesses, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) hopes to increase N95 mask production by over 39 million units in the next 90 days. The particulate-filtering mask have been a vital defense against the continuously spreading COVID-19 coronavirus which has caused a global pandemic with significant numbers of deaths.

The mask is produced with a fine mesh of synthetic polymer fibers or nonwoven polypropylene fabric by a number of companies. The DoD awarded contracts to three major mask makers, with $76 million going to 3M, $29 million to O&M Halyard and $27.4 million to Honeywell. The contracts not only boost production of the much-needed masks but help boost the industrial capacity of the U.S. economy to meet the health needs of the nation.

With its $76 million contract, 3M will be able to produce 78 million masks within six months and an additional 13 million masks per month by June. The firm will accelerate production by converting a current equipment supplier into an N95 mask producer and will expand melt-blown material production in its Sheboygan Falls, Wisc. and Aberdeen, Neb. manufacturing facilities.

O&M Halyard, part of the Owens & Minor group of companies, will add 25 million N95 mask units to its production lines within six months, producing an additional 12.5 million masks/month every month after the initial six months. The acceleration in production of N95 masks made possible by the DoD contract will also make it possible to complete an order for N95 masks by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) within 12 months rather than 18 months. The company will reach the required production capabilities by adding five N95-making machines to its Del Rio, Tex. facility and expanding melt-down material production at its Lexington, N.C. facility.

Finally, Honeywell will add 38 million masks to its production lines within six months and an additional 12 million masks per month after that. As with O&M Halyard, it will be able to speed its HHS order for N95 masks from 13 months to within 10 months. Honeywell add capital equipment and production capabilities at its Smithfield, R.I. facility and accelerate a second production line for the N95 masks at its Phoenix, Ariz. plant.

About the Author

Jack Browne | Technical Contributor

Jack Browne, Technical Contributor, has worked in technical publishing for over 30 years. He managed the content and production of three technical journals while at the American Institute of Physics, including Medical Physics and the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology. He has been a Publisher and Editor for Penton Media, started the firm’s Wireless Symposium & Exhibition trade show in 1993, and currently serves as Technical Contributor for that company's Microwaves & RF magazine. Browne, who holds a BS in Mathematics from City College of New York and BA degrees in English and Philosophy from Fordham University, is a member of the IEEE.

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