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COVID 19 Roundup: 3M, DSM and more contribute to pandemic response

| By Mary Bailey

Many chemical processing and engineering companies are contributing to efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19: 

SNC-Lavalin (Montreal, Queb., Canada) has been selected by AMD Medicom Inc. (Medicom) to support the establishment of their first Canadian mask manufacturing facility that will produce N95 and surgical masks dedicated to supplying the local needs of healthcare professionals. The governments of Canada and Quebec have recently named Medicom as their choice to secure Canadian production of tens of million masks, starting in July. Headquartered in Montreal, Medicom has medical-grade personal protection equipment production facilities around the world in Asia, Europe and the United States. Their new 60,000-square-foot facility will be located in Montreal and the masks produced will be primarily used to supply the Canadian market. 

Synthomer (London, U.K.) is donating 450,000 medical gloves to the municipal hospital Papa Giovanni XXIII in Bergamo, Italy. The hospital is situated in the heart of the Lombardy region of Italy which has been severely affected by Covid-19 pandemic. Synthomer’s Filago plant, which produces Nitrile Latex for the medical glove industry, is situated just 17 km from the hospital.

Royal DSM (Heerlen, the Netherlands) has started manufacturing nose swabs for the first time to help overcome a shortage of Covid-19 test kits in the Netherlands, following a request from the Dutch government. DSM will produce sufficient swabs to meet the entire country’s testing needs for the next three months. DSM is donating the 11 tons of material required to make the swabs as well as its local processing expertise to help in the fight against Covid-19. During this time, DSM applied its scientific and manufacturing expertise, and tapped into its global network to create a scalable, cost effective swab. The design was developed with DSM’s 3D-printing expertise and scaled-up by injection molding to produce millions of swabs for test kits in the Netherlands. The swabs are certified by the RIVM and full-scale production has started. DSM works with Dutch partners Molded, ECM Europe and Steris to produce, package and sterilize the packaged swabs for the LCH to distribute among test locations across the country.

Geomega Resources Inc. (Montreal), a rare earths developer for mining and recycling, announced that the company has completed the retrofit of its pilot plant and has begun the production of hand sanitizer for the Québec market. The Corporation obtained the natural product number (NPN) and all the approvals from Health Canada in order to manufacture and distribute hand sanitizer using the WHO-recommended formulation. The modifications have now been completed and production has begun. The production is from the corporation’s pilot plant and allows Geomega to produce up to 675 liters per week. Although, since there is a significant lack of supplies in the market, production capabilities will depend on availability of raw materials from local distributers. The corporation will be securing additional supply of raw material and focus on distributing its hand sanitizer product to local retirement homes, hospitals, pharmacies and distributers in the province of Québec. The corporation will be donating 20% of its hand-sanitizer production to local long-term care homes and other charities.

3M (St. Paul) has been awarded two contracts through the U.S. Department of Defense in recent weeks to further expand U.S. production of N95 respirators in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Beginning in January, 3M ramped up production of respirators and doubled its global output to 1.1 billion per year – including 35 million N95 respirators per month in the U.S.  These contracts, a collaboration made possible under the authority of the Defense Production Act, will allow 3M to make another 39 million respirators per month in the U.S. An additional investment already underway by 3M will add another 22 million respirators per month to that output, nearly tripling the company’s total production of N95 respirators to more than 95 million per month in the U.S.  3M has invested over $80 million in ramping up N95 respirator production since the outbreak began in January. Those investments and actions, along with these contracts, will enable the company to nearly double its current capacity again to 2 billion respirators globally by the end of the year.  The increase in production will be made possible by the addition of new equipment that manufactures N95 respirators. The construction of that equipment has begun in Wisconsin where initial production of the respirators will start in June. The equipment will eventually be relocated to a new expansion at 3M’s facility in Aberdeen, South Dakota. 3M’s Aberdeen plant has been a key part of the company’s U.S. manufacturing strategy of personal protective equipment for decades and throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.