3M will boost its monthly U.S. production of N95 masks to 95 million after winning a $126 million Department of Defense contract — with the additional respirators made in the Upper Midwest.
The latest contract is on top of a $76 million contract announced last month.
Maplewood-based 3M announced last month it would be able to produce 35 million masks monthly in the U.S. by the end of April and 50 million a month by June.
Money from the latest contract will allow 3M to build equipment for two new N95 production lines at its Aberdeen, S.D., plant, which is expanding.
3M, already the largest maker of N95 respirators, said it is using money from the $76 million contract to build an N95 line in Wisconsin that will start operating in June, officials said.
When the expansion in South Dakota is completed, the Wisconsin line will be moved there.
The two 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.
The company will hit the new 95 million monthly production rate by October, officials said on Thursday.
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 front-line 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 U.S. from the company’s manufacturing plants in Asia. The company had pledged to have all of them to the U.S. by the end of June.
3M is not alone in boosting its respirator capacity.
Honeywell recently increased its N95 respirator production at its Rhode Island factory and this month opened a new N95 production line in Phoenix.
Honeywell and Owens & Minor shared in the Defense Department contract 3M won last month, with 3M receiving $76 million and the other two sharing the rest.