Companies Shifted To Make N95 Respirators During COVID
A year after several American businesses sprang up to manufacture much-needed masks and N95 respirators within U.S. borders, many of those businesses are now on the brink of financial collapse, shutting down production and laying off workers.To get more news about china type II mask factory outlet, you can visit tnkme.com official website.
The nationwide vaccination campaign, combined with an influx of cheaper, Chinese-made masks and N95 respirators, has dramatically cut into the companies' sales and undermined their prices.And while some call it a normal consequence of a free market, a few business owners say they feel abandoned by the same government that relied on them to help save American lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"This is not only a matter of national security but of national pride," a group of them wrote last month in a letter to President Biden asking for government help.Last year, dozens of companies like Armbrust American answered the nation's call for more domestic production of personal protective equipment (PPE). Using its own resources and without government assistance, Armbrust purchased a facility near Austin, Texas, bought machinery, hired over a hundred workers, applied for a complicated and lengthy certification and started manufacturing.We started at the height of the pandemic really, in April, and very, very quickly, in about six months, we were able to scale up to producing about a million masks per day. And today we produce both surgical and N95-style masks," said Lloyd Armbrust, the founder and CEO.
Business was doing well, until the mass vaccination effort dramatically reduced demand for masks. Now, Armbrust predicts he can keep going for another four months at most, before completely shuttering the plant. "We are down to a skeleton crew on the alternate shifts and just barely a full crew on the main shift," he said.
At the beginning of this year, Armbrust and 27 other small-business mask manufacturers formed the American Mask Manufacturer's Association (AMMA).
"Let me put this in perspective: We have 28 members who are going to go out of business in the next 60 to 90 days, and when they go out of business, it's not like we turn off the lights and mothball these machines. We send them to the dump. That capacity that we created goes away," Armbrust said. Already five of the AMMA members have stopped production, he said.These recent entrants into the mask-manufacturing industry are not the only companies cutting back on production, laying off workers and fighting for a share of a market long dominated by foreign-made products.
Before the pandemic began, about 10 American companies were actively making N95 respirators, according to Anne Miller, executive director of the nonprofit ProjectN95, a national clearinghouse for PPE founded in 2020. Larger companies such as Honeywell and 3M also manufactured N95s in factories abroad. All told, fewer than 10% of the N95 respirators used in the U.S. were manufactured domestically, according to industry experts.
In early 2020, China, the world's largest manufacturer of masks, was also fighting the pandemic and nationalized its manufacturing. The U.S. market, which depended mostly on masks from China, was essentially cut out.
"China, realizing that they have a crisis on their hands, restricted the export of all masks to the United States," said Robert Handfield, a professor of supply chain management at North Carolina State University. So, while those companies were still producing, he says, they were forbidden by the Chinese government from shipping the masks to the United States.
To add to the problem, even U.S. companies such as Honeywell and 3M, which manufactured predominantly abroad, faced restrictions. "3M was unable to get shipments from its own factories in China back to the United States because the exports were being prevented by the Chinese government from leaving the country," Handfield said. The inability to get masks from abroad led to shortages domestically that put the U.S. in a precarious position.