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3M has won two contracts through the US Department of Defense (US DOD) to expand the production of N95 respirators in response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

With a collaboration made possible under the authority of the Defense Production Act, 3M is expected to produce additional 39 million respirators per month in the US.

Beginning January this year, the company increased the production of respirators doubling its global production to 1.1 billion per year, investing over $80m since the outbreak started.

By October, additional investments are expected to add about 22 million respirators per month. This will accelerate the production from 35 million mask per month to more than 95 million per month.

3M board chairman and CEO Mike Roman said: “3M is working around the clock to get much-needed personal protective equipment to the nation’s frontline healthcare workers.

“Being selected for these contracts will allow us to increase our manufacturing capability even more.”

Production can be increased with the installation of new equipment that manufactures N95 respirators. Currently under construction in Wisconsin, the equipment will commence initial production of the respirators in June.

Later, the equipment will be relocated to a new expansion at 3M’s facility in Aberdeen, South Dakota.

3M is also working with the US government to import approximately 166.5 million respirators from its manufacturing facilities in China and other Asia locations.

The imports are underway and will continue over the coming months.

Separately, the Department of the US Air Force’s Acquisition Covid-19 Task Force (DAF-ACT) awarded a $126m contract to 3M for production of N95 masks.