3M Co. is ramping up production of its face and respirator masks aimed at hospitals while battling an onslaught of counterfeit products that recently hit the marketplace, company officials said Friday.
“3M is receiving increasing reports of fraudulent and counterfeiting activities involving 3M products,” the Maplewood-based international giant said in a statement. “The company strongly condemns any unethical actions taken to exploit the global pandemic.”
The company has doubled global production of its highly coveted N95 respiratory masks to 1.1 billion a year (or 100 million a month), the statement said, and is working to get the new batches into the hands of hospitals and health care providers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
3M is the latest Minnesota firm to ramp up manufacturing of products that can fight the virus. Protolabs in Maple Plaine and Wyoming Machine in Stacy are newly producing parts for ventilators, COVID-19 test kits and food packaging equipment.
For 3M, about 400 million of 3M’s N95 masks are currently manufactured each year in the United States. They are increasingly being directed to support both government and public health response, officials said.
The company also manufactures respirators at locations in Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America.
With the help of Congressional action taken this week, 3M expects to be able to route more of its mask to customers in the health care industry. Hospitals and first responders have talked about running out of masks and are predicting a shortage of ventilators in the U.S.
The company said it is now working with governments, medical officials, customers and distributors around the world to help get the supplies where they are needed most.
Besides masks, 3M boosted production of other COVID-19 related products including hand sanitizers, disinfectants and filtration solutions aimed at health care providers and for the pharmaceutical industry working to find a vaccine to fight the virus officials said.
“This pandemic is affecting us all, and we are doing all we can to support public health and especially our first responders and those impacted by this global health crisis,” 3M CEO Mike Roman said Friday in the statement. “We are mobilizing all available resources and rapidly increasing output of critical supplies health care workers in the United States and around the world need to help protect their lives as they treat others.”
On a down market day, 3M’s stock fell 9% to close at $124.89 a share Friday.
Other companies are racing to help during the pandemic.
Friday, the Maple Plain based robotic factory Protolabs announced it was rapidly making coronavirus test kits and ventilator parts.
“We’ve seen an influx of COVID-19 related medical components needing urgent production; ranging from test kits to ventilators to respirators,” said Protolabs CEO Vicki Holt. “We are urgently putting internal protocols in place to be able to prioritize these orders ahead of all others and waiving expedite fees in order to quickly get critical medical supplies into the market.”
Protolabs spokeswoman Sarah Ekenberg said Protolabs will ship 10,000 injection-molded coronavirus test kits Saturday and ship 100,000 more soon. The company is also making 100,000 ventilator parts for a large medical equipment firm and two ventilator prototypes for a major university.
The sudden rush of medical orders is being moved to the front of the production line.
“We are prioritizing projects which are needed to equip our medical system to treat patients with COVID-19 and providing these customers with additional consultative design assistance to rapidly get these parts produced,” Ekenberg said.