St. Petersburg-based tech company aims to churn out 1.6 million masks a day

A manufacturing service company headquartered in St. Petersburg is changing gears at is factories around the country so they can manufacture face masks -- and it turns out, they’re pretty good at it.

Jabil – which usually makes electronics at its facilities in Tennessee, Massachusetts, and Illinois -- manufactured 650,000 face masks Tuesday. Soon the company says it will be up to 1.6 million masks a day.

Jabil's SVP of business development, Charlie Main, said when COVID-19 was spreading in China, their overseas factories couldn’t get masks. It was a sign that Jabil needed to adapt.

“In order to keep our factories running and take care of our customers, we started recognizing that there were problems in supply chains on getting masks,” said Main. “So we said, 'Why don’t we build our own masks?'”

They were up and running by late March.

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“We ended up designing and building our own mask-making equipment – higher quality, higher grade, higher through-put – and it gave us the benefit that we could scale the operations faster,” he said.

Main said once Jabil hits its target of producing 1.6 million single-use masks a day, they are going to increase the pace to 5.5 million a day by this fall.

That's 2 billion masks per year.

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“We’re actually building some of the raw materials ourselves, as well. We’ve had them tested and they have a particle filtration efficiency of greater than 98%,” Main explained.

The company says it has received requests from all kinds of industries, from state and local governments to some of the largest employers in the world.

Main admits the key to keeping up with demand is manufacturing speed.

“This project has really been all about speed and moving quickly so we can protect people,” he said.

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