MILAN (Reuters) - Luxury carmaker Ferrari <RACE.MI> has begun making parts to convert snorkel masks into respirators for treating patients with coronavirus and protecting medical workers.
The idea of adapting the masks, originally proposed by Italian engineers, is now being used in several countries to meet a surge in demand for respirators during the pandemic.
Ferrari on Thursday said in a statement that it had started making thermoplastic valves and fittings for masks using its 3D printing technology at its Maranello plant.
It said it planned to manufacture several hundred pieces of the equipment, which would be used in Italian hospitals and by health service workers.
Some valves have been developed by diving equipment manufacturer Mares to fit their underwater masks and create respirators for patients suffering from respiratory failure.
Other fittings are being supplied to Italian digital-manufacturing group Solid Energy, which will use them to transform snorkel masks by sports retailer Decathlon into protection for healthcare workers.
Chairman John Elkann said it would make results available to other firms of a voluntary screening project that Ferrari launched last week on the health of its employees and their families aimed at gradually reopening the company's two production sites in northern Italy.
Ferrari has halted operations at its two plants until May 3, when Rome is expected to start easing nationwide restrictions on non-essential business activities.
As part of the scheme Ferrari will give workers the opportunity to use a mobile app which will help trace possible coronavirus exposure.
In addition, Elkann said that he, Chief Executive Louis Camilleri, other top managers and board members had agreed to take partial or full pay cuts for the rest of the year, using the funds to help local authorities face the health emergency.
He did not provide further details.
(Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari, editing by Giulia Segreti and Alexander Smith)