3M will now boost its monthly U.S. production of N95 masks to 96 million after winning two additional Department of Defense contracts.
That’s triple what production was before the coronavirus pandemic, 3M officials said Thursday.
Money from the latest contracts — 3M did not disclose how much they were worth — will allow the company to build equipment for a new N95 line in Wisconsin and start operating it in June there.
Eventually the line will be moved to 3M’s respirator plant in Aberdeen, Wis., which is about to be expanded because of an earlier decision.
The new government contracts are under the Defense Production Act. President Donald Trump in early April declared that 3M N95 production would fall under that “essential production” act.
3M said Thursday it had invested $80 million since January to expand its production capacity for N95 masks.
It had said it would be making over 35 million masks in the U.S. by the end of April and 50 million monthly by June.
The rapid ramp-up is designed to help quickly get more protective equipment into U.S. hospitals, clinics and nursing homes battling COVID-19.
With the U.S. investments, 3M said it will reach its goal of doubling its N95 production to 2 billion respirators yearly worldwide by the end of the year.
3M previously said it would take about 12 months to ramp up to a 2 billion annual production rate.
“3M is working around the clock to get much-needed personal protective equipment to the nation’s frontline healthcare workers,” said 3M CEO Mike Roman. “Being selected for these contracts will allow us to increase our manufacturing capability even more.”
Separately, 3M said it has already begun to import a promised 166.5 million N95 masks into the United States from 3M’s manufacturing plants in China and other Asia locations.
“Those imports have already begun and will continue over the coming months,” officials said.