By John Lauritsen


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As people hunker down during the COVID-19 outbreak, Minnesota companies are stepping up.

The race is ramping up for medical devices and equipment, and Protolabs in Maple Plain is ready, according to CEO Vicki Holt.

“We are built to be a very quick turn, rapid manufacturer at scale,” Holt said. “We’re seeing ventilators, we’re seeing respirators.”

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They helped the University of Minnesota create a new type of ventilator. It’s just one of dozens of programs they’re now working on. Holt says one project includes making parts for a COVID-19 test kit.

“We made 10,000 parts over the weekend for that in order to get that out to the market quickly,” she said. “We are rapidly moving that to the front of the line to a manufacturing facility so we can get those parts out quickly.”

Protolabs and other Minnesota Companies like them are collaborating now more than ever. They are sharing best practices in hopes of flattening the COVID-19 curve. And they’re working double-time to get it done. 3M will be producing 35 million respirator masks a month. Bedford Industries in Worthington, known for making twist ties, now plans to make 50,000 face shields a day.

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Medtronic, based in the Twin Cities, is also producing ventilators in Ireland, according to CCO Rob Clark.

“We’re doing about … a little more than 225 ventilators a week now. We hope to get that to over 500 in the next few weeks,” Clark said.

Medtronic has 90,000 employees worldwide. The company is working 24-7 to help supply the supply chain, all while trying to keep their workforce healthy.

“For us, it’s a full-court press, and we’ve been in that mode now for several weeks,” Clark said. “We are trying to do our part as any citizen. We are working from home when we can work from home.”

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John Lauritsen

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