Ford to make reusable medical gowns from airbag material

Ford is expanding the range of protective medical gear it will produce to meet the nationwide shortage created by the coronavirus pandemic, the automaker said Monday.

The company will now start producing washable and reusable medical gowns, using the same nylon material normally used for airbags.

As with the respirators and other personal protection equipment Ford is currently producing with 3M, the automaker has cut development and production times by using materials already available at its factories. 

Ford and 3M are expected to roll out their first powered respirators later this week, with a goal of producing at least 100,000 by June.

The venture is "a great example of corporate cooperation,” said Mike Kesti, a global technical director at 3M.