Fashion designers, automakers and other companies make masks and medical supplies

In the wake of the global novel coronavirus pandemic, common medical supplies like ventilators, medical masks, hospital gowns and hand sanitizer have become scarce — and manufacturers of such supplies cannot keep up. 

So this past week, vacuum, car, fashion and cosmetics manufacturers have turned to making ventilators, medical masks, hospital gowns and hand sanitizer to help with COVID-19 relief and treatment efforts. 

Here is an up-to-date list of major manufactures that are re-directing their resources to COVID-19 relief measures.

Ventilator production

Ventilators, which move air in and out of the lungs, are needed for critical COVID-19 patients, while protective gear aims to slow the spread of the virus. The following companies will or have offered to manufacture ventilators. 

Exor and related companies

Exor, the Amsterdam-based owner of Ferrari and Fiat Chrysler, is in talks to assist Bologna-based Siare Engineering, as they ramp up ventilator production from 160 units to 500 a month. 

In addition to manufacturing operations, car manufacturers have access to plastic, metal, and electronic supplies. Ferrari, the Italy-based luxury car maker, has sent specialized personnel to assist Siare, but they are also planning to manufacture ventilator parts in-house at its Maranello headquarters. They will be joined by Fiat Chrysler, according to reports

Italian car parts maker Magneti Marelli, previously owned by Exor, makes car parts for Volkswagen, PSA and Fiat Chrysler. It suspended production at most European plants from March 13 to March 27 due to COVID-19, but it may reopen plants sooner since they are also in talks with Siare to assist with ventilator production. 

“We’re talking to Fiat Chrysler, Ferrari and Marelli to try to understand if they can lend us a hand in this process for the electronics part,” Gianluca Preziosa, Siare’s chief executive, told Reuters

Ford and General Motors

In the U.S., President Donald Trump announced that the Defense Production Act, which authorizes him to legally mandate the production of goods from private and public companies, is now “in gear” as of March 20. But car makers have already been at work, looking for a solution. 

Michigan-based car makers General Motors and Ford have been in touch with the White House about producing medical equipment, including ventilators. This comes after General Motors and Ford shut down all North American factories from March 19 until at least March 31.

“As America’s largest producer of vehicles and top employer of autoworkers, Ford stands ready to help the administration in any way we can, including the possibility of producing ventilators and other equipment… We have had preliminary discussions with the US government and are looking into the feasibility,” Ford said in a statement Wednesday night. 


Elon Musk tweeted on March 18 that Tesla would make ventilators “if there is a shortage.” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio responded by saying New York had a shortage, to which Musk said they would engage in talks.  

Honda, Jaguar, Rolls Royce

The UK government has approached over 60 manufacturers with a “basic, functional” blueprint for ventilators. Among manufacturers called to action, Honda, Rolls Royce and Dyson top the list, according to reports.

UK government officials asked Honda whether it would use its Swindon plant to manufacture ventilators. Rolls Royce, the London-based engine manufacturer, has promised to produce health equipment, including ventilators. This comes as the company suspends operations at its Goodwood, UK manufacturing plant from March 19 to April 2.

The UK needs 20,000 ventilators “at speed,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Matt Hancock, the UK’s secretary of state for health and social care, put out a public call for manufacturing assistance on Twitter on March 16. 


Dyson, the UK-based vacuum and hand-dryer maker, has also been approached about making ventilators by the UK government. 

Respirator valves and other parts

A number of 3D-printing companies, alongside private 3D printer enthusiasts, have begun production of oxygen valves for use with ventilators.

Notably, direct to consumer tele-dentistry company SmileDirectClub will use its 3D printers to produce respirator valves, as well as medical masks. Airbus, an aircraft manufacturer, is also planning to 3D print ventilator parts. 

“Reports of medical supply shortages are very concerning and we have the production capacity to help in the printing of plastic materials. Due to recent automations that increased our printing output capacity, we’re able to easily add this production to our current clear aligner therapy lines,” said SmileDirectClub chief executive officer David Katzman in a statement

Hand sanitizer, medical masks, hospital gowns, and protective supplies

Christian Siriano

Fashion designer Christian Siriano, whose designs are seen in Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and other retailers, has offered his sewing team to make medical masks in New York. Sirano has already produced a prototype, but he plans to make several versions to fit people with varying needs. 


Inditex, the Spain-based owner of fashion retailer Zara, announced March 18 that it will produce hospital gowns and surgical masks for patients and medical workers. The company said it has already donated 10,000 masks and expects to deliver 300,000 additional masks by the end of the week. Zara representatives said that they are actively sourcing medical-grade fabric for hospital gowns. 


L’Oréal, the France-based cosmetics company, has re-tooled its production facilities to create hand sanitizer and hydroalcoholic gel for French and European health authorities, French pharmacies and European food distributors.

“In this unprecedented crisis, it is our responsibility to contribute to the collective effort in every way possible. Through these actions, L’Oréal expresses our recognition, our support and our solidarity towards those who are demonstrating extraordinary courage and selflessness in their efforts to combat this pandemic,” said Jean-Paul Agon, L’Oréal chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement.


Paris-based LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton and Dior, announced it will use the company’s French perfume factories to produce hand sanitizer that the company will donate to health authorities, LVMH announced Sunday.

“LVMH will continue to honour this commitment for as long as necessary,” the company said in a statement

Distilleries and breweries

Breweries and distilleries in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Sweden, Australia and other locations have begun producing hand sanitizer by mixing pure alcohol with glycerol and hydrogen peroxide, as the novel coronavirus prompts global shortages in hospitals and pharmacies. 

One Canadian company, Dixon’s Distilled Spirits, has donated 3,000 bottles of sanitizer to local police, health workers and care homes. And a Toronto-based distillery, Spirit of York Distillery, began selling hand sanitizer for C$3 on March 19. It offers it for free to seniors or those who can’t afford it. Proceeds from the sale of the hand sanitizer will go to a local food bank, the company said. 

In the U,S. the  FDA announced it would relax hand sanitizer rules on March 20, and the UK announced March 18 that it would fast-track applications from companies to make denatured alcohol for sanitizing. Canada also agreed to lift some rules on hand sanitizer, disinfectant and equipment sales, said a statement by Health Canada

This article will continue to be updated as companies announce plans to manufacture medical supplies during the coronavirus outbreak.

Sarah Paynter is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @sarahapaynter

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