Cirrus Aircraft, the Duluth-based airplane manufacturing company, has designed a battery-powered respirator for local hospitals, which are experiencing shortages of personal protective equipment.

Using computer-aided design and 3D printing, Cirrus engineers both designed and prototyped the powered air-purifying respirators, or PAPRs.

Over the weekend, at least a couple of the PAPRs will be tested by health care workers who are not working with COVID-19 patients, according to Cirrus staff.

"Once that is complete, we will ramp up production following approval or further adjust the units as needed for more testing," Cirrus staff said.

The company's goal is to provide 200 units to Northland communities over the next couple weeks.

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Cirrus has been working with medical staff at Essentia Health and St. Luke's to evaluate, refine and test the units.

The Cirrus PAPR design costs a fraction of what the 3M units typically supplied to hospitals cost, according to a Cirrus news release.

Both Cirrus and Frost River — the Duluth-based waxed-canvas bag manufacturer — have been working together to create 850 assemblies to be worn with the battery-powered respirators, including the loose-fitting garments that cover the head and shoulders. The hoods are discarded after use. The two companies are also creating the assembly that connects the PAPR blower to the hood.

In addition to the PAPR assemblies, Cirrus, with help from Frost River and SCS Interiors — a Duluth upholstery company — has assembled nearly 29,000 face shields for local health care workers and is on its way to assembling another 2,700.