A company based in Mesa, Arizona has announced plans to manufacture up to one billion face masks in response to the Covid 19 outbreak.
US Power AZ PPE says it is stepping up production of the masks this week at its plant located in the Gateway Technology Center. In a press release, Kevin Thorpe, president of the company, said the masks would be designed for everyday use, but also for “healthcare professionals that serve on the front lines.”
The company estimates that it will ultimately be able to manufacture and produce a minimum of around 50 million masks on a monthly basis.
US Power AZ’s production launch mirrors a national drive for the stepped-up output of masks that is also seeing the building of new facilities to house their manufacture.
The 3M company, the nation’s leading producer of N95 face masks, has two production facilities working overtime in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and Valley, Nebraska.
Earlier this summer the company completed a 120,000 square foot addition to the Aberdeen plant after securing more than $200 million in orders for their masks.
The Charlotte, North Carolina-based Honeywell International, known for its aerospace and building technologies, this spring repurposed its manufacturing facilities in both Phoenix as well Smithfield, Rhode Island to meet the mask demand.
In an interview with the publication WRAL Tech Wire, Darius Adamczyk, chief executive officer of Honeywell, remarked that the company “very quickly mobilized a couple of facilities that we weren’t fully utilizing.”
“Something that would normally take us nine months took us literally four to five weeks to create,” Adamczyk continued, adding: “We’ve gone from zero production to having two fully functioning facilities, making about 20 million masks a month.”
Industry analysts say the stepped-up production of masks, which were formerly mostly produced in China, means that there will almost certainly be more mask manufacturing plants built in the U.S. in the months to come.
In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Stacy Cummings, assistant Secretary of Defense, noted that the U.S. consumed around 50 million masks in normal times, but that in the three-month period after the Covid-19 outbreak the demand surged to 140 million.
Cummings predicted that the country should be capable of manufacturing up to 450 million masks a year by this fall, with the rate increasing to 800 million per year by early 2021.
N95 masks meet National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health standards in filtering out at least 95 percent of airborne particles.
By Garry Boulard
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