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3M may end body armor business after funding delays from the Army

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Minnesota-based 3M is considering shuttering its body armor business after the U.S. Army delayed funding for a contract, reports note.

Finance & Commerce obtained a letter sent to Congress from a 3M official that said the company was preparing to wind down production of body armor and boron carbide chemicals that are used in armor for soldiers and armor plating for military vehicles after the Army diverted $80 million to other uses, including lighter-weight armorFinance & Commerce notes.

The letter also says that 3M has already had to cut 50 jobs at a Kentucky plant and 40 jobs at a California facility back in May after the Army diverted the money, which had been appropriated by Congress to the Army to "specifically sustain the industrial base for body armor," according to Congress.gov.

3M is also involved with the lighter-weight armor project, reports note, but the company said in the letter that without the money from the Army, it can't sustain its business this year.

3M Executive Vice President Michael Roman wrote in the letter:

“We are drafting plans to exit the body armor business as there is no other customer for such highly engineered body armor. We are making difficult decisions that could have broad effects for other body armor companies which utilize 3M’s boron carbide powder for multiple aircraft/helicopter platforms.”

3M and BAE Systems are the two major makers for body armor for the military in the world, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal says.

The company has been in talks with the Army to resolve the issue, but the recent letter shows a sense of urgency from 3M, Finance & Commerce notes.

There is no word on how many more jobs could be lost if 3M goes through with shutting down the armor business or if any jobs at the Maplewood, Minnesota, headquarters will be affected.

3M laid off 93 workers from its Ceradyne plant in Kentucky back in 2013 when the Defense Department reduced funding for body armor, WBKO reported. Ninety workers were also laid off from the Ceradyne facility in California later that year, the Orange County Business Journal reported.

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