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‘Brutal education’: Inside the mad rush to make masks to battle COVID-19

By Naomi Powell, Financial Post

April 3, 2020  Overnight it seems, garment manufacturers, packaging suppliers and autoparts makers have turned their attention to goods that were once the domain of specialty medical suppliers.

“We’re not putting all our eggs on the other side of the 49thparallel,” said Flavio Volpe, who, as president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association, has led efforts to scale up production.

“It would be very foolish right now to rely on trading partners, especially when our main trading partners have been hit harder by COVID-19 than we have. So we’re saying OK, if we need masks, and export controls are going to be an issue everywhere including the U.S., then let’s figure out how to make them here.”

As the engineers at McMaster have quickly learned, realizing that goal means overcoming significant barriers presented by complex global supply chains and limited domestic production – all while racing against a ticking clock.

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