Ford's Quickly-Designed Powered Air-Purifying Respirators Are A Clever Re-Use Of F-150 And Hand Tool Parts

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Most major automakers and many other companies do their best to help produce more much needed equipment such as air purifiers and respirators leading to some fascinating improvised fast engineering and design solutions. The results are somewhat similar to the kind of smart engineering within severe constraints of an Apollo 13-like emergency resolution scenario, such as Ford’s design for a powered air purifying respirator (PAPR).

Ford’s media department sent a press release detailing efforts to design and build the PAPRs, a joint venture between Ford, 3M, GE Healthcare and the UAW.

The task of a powered air-purifying respirator is to pull out, possibly virus-contaminated, air into a filter system before it is made available to the person wearing it for breathing. Unlike passive filters such as masks that rely on the wearer’s lungs to draw air through a filter mesh, these powered respirators can enclose a person’s entire head in a hood and flood the hood with filtered air.

To do this, you need to have something that can actually pull the air in, that’s why it’s powered and that’s where the smart auto parts related bits come in.

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Statue: Ford

Ford repurposed squirrel-cage piston fans from F-150 trucks to draw air through the filters and blow the air into the hood supply hose. The 12V needed to power the fan is provided by what looks like a standard power tool battery, the kind you’d use in something like a drill.

It seems that all of these pieces are wrapped in 3D printed plastic cases and attached to a belt, which allows it to be worn on someone’s back, I think.

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The hood design uses a simple Tyvek cartridge for the hood itself and hoses that may come from the pool facility or vacuum cleaner industry.

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Ford also uses 3D printing technologies to tailor plastic parts to the hoods and filter units, which feels pleasant and futuristic.

Picture for article titled Ford's Quickly Designed Powered Air Purifying Respirators are a smart reuse of the F-150 and hand tool parts

It’s really almost impossible not to associate this with the Apollo 13 carbon dioxide air washer ersatz fix with gray tape and covers from their mission plan manuals, and I really can’t imagine higher praise than that.

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