Department of Defense COVID-19 Initiatives to Address the Shortage of Medical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Respirators


CDC Photo by Debora Cartagena

CDC Photo by Debora Cartagena

Posted: April 09, 2020 | Completed: 20200325
What U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) efforts are ongoing to address the shortages of critical medical equipment due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

DSIAC staff collected information and the proper contacts related to several DoD initiatives addressing the production of PPE, respirators, ventilators, and other medical equipment in support of the COVID-19 pandemic response. Information and the pertinent contacts for two such initiatives were delivered to the DSIAC contact on the Task Force.

The U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center set up a COVID-19 Additive Manufacturing Rapid Response Team that is actively attempting to resolve issues with and coordinating efforts to additively manufacture face masks, respirators, and other medical equipment.

Similarly, the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) has been working with the Army Futures Command Combat Capabilities Development Command (AFC CCDC) and other institutes and members to develop a near-term strategy to quickly respond to the need for N95 respirators and surgical masks. The AFFOA is organizing their member companies to use current materials and processes to meet immediate demands, as well as using three-dimensional (3-D) knitting machines as an alternative to current processes for printing a finished fabric part.  The institute is working with members to ramp up production of N95 respirators by identifying companies with melt-blown fabric lines that could be converted or retooled for production.  They are also working with the Pennsylvania Fabric Discovery Center to develop knit mask designs that can be scaled at other facilities with knitting machines and with United States Forces Korea and the CCDC to help optimize N95 mask production via 3-D printing, among other alternatives.

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