Help for American Manufacturers Looking to Help in the Coronavirus Fight

By Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch
Apr 08 2020 |
Ford and members of the United Autoworkers (UAW) are assembling more than 100,000 face shields to help protect medical personnel during the coronavirus crisis. | Photo courtesy Ford

The House Manufacturing Caucus put together a list of resources.

Are you a manufacturer looking to make much-needed supplies for hospitals, first responders, and others on the frontlines of the coronavirus fight? Are you having trouble accessing the materials you need? Are you unsure of what to make – or where to send it?

The offices of Reps. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), who oversee the House Manufacturing Caucus, shared with us some resources that can help. The list includes everything from places to source key materials to specs for making personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical equipment to resources to assist manufacturers struggling because of the economic slowdown.

ThomasNet has set up a sourcing database and a COVID-19 Resource Hub to provide a slew of information about suppliers and help companies get involved. Not only can users search for suppliers for things like respirators, PPE, face masks, ventilators and other critically needed products – there are currently more than 10,000 PPE suppliers on the platform – companies also can set up a free profile so buyers, engineers, government agencies and others can find them more easily. Verified manufacturers who get involved will be listed in the “COVID-19 Response” category on and have a special badge displayed on their profile for the duration of the crisis.

In addition, companies can inform ThomasNet if they are capable of changing their manufacturing facility to make critical materials, have items to donate or critical supplies in stock.

The ThomasNet database is pretty comprehensive. For example, a quick search found more than 70 suppliers of Isopropyl Alcohol (which is needed to make hand sanitizer) and searches can be narrowed by region and type of supply.

Another helpful tip: ThomasNet is also using the resource hub to help manufacturers weather the economic uncertainty of the crisis by providing real-time updates on business shutdowns, key industrial surveys and reports, and other resources.

The National Center for Manufacturing Science (NCMS) set up a special website that allows companies to specify their ability to provide key materials and “play a role in solving critical supply shortages.” It’s part of the Defense Department’s COVID-19 Joint Acquisition Task Force, which also includes support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Once companies submit their information, it will be shared with the task force to directly help those leading the COVID-19 response.  

America Makes is working alongside the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to connect healthcare providers with manufacturers who can use 3D printers to make critical supplies. Manufacturers can sign up to make these supplies, designers can submit their designs, and healthcare providers can request the materials they need.

The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a national network of hundreds of specialists who specialize in helping small-to-mid-sized manufacturers, is fielding calls related to supplies. The MEP consists of centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico; you can find your local center here.

The coronavirus crisis is unprecedented. But the work that manufacturers and factory workers across the country are doing to quickly produce everything from facemasks to ventilators and more to help mitigate the virus is inspiring. We hope these resources prove useful to those helping the helpers on the frontlines of the crisis.