Dr. Koen P. Wilms
Vice President & General Manager
Spotlight on 3M Company
3M is a diversified technology company with a worldwide presence in the following markets: industrial and transportation, consumer and office, display and graphics, electro and communications, health care; and safety, security and protection services. What makes 3M so diverse is its ability to apply its technologies - often in combination - to an endless array of customer needs.
Founded in 1902, 3M operates in more than 60 countries around the world. In 2010, sales reached nearly $27 billion; and 5.4 percent of total sales was reinvested in research, development and related expenditures.
More than 45 core technologies are at the heart of 3M's 55,000 products. Key technologies include adhesives, abrasives, ceramics, microreplication, integrated systems design, light management, nanotechnology, surface modification and nonwoven materials.
Beginning with the introduction of Wetordry™ Abrasives and then masking tape for two-tone paint jobs, 3M has become a global supplier of innovative, value-added solutions to the automotive industry for over 90 years. Hundreds of 3M products are used in the manufacture of vehicles, ranging from consumable products in assembly plant operations, to many others engineered into body, exterior, interior, powertrain and chassis components.
Examples of 3M consumables used in the assembly plant include abrasives, masking and specialty tapes, safety respirators and masks, liquid filtration, cleaning wipes and many more. Existing 3M products engineered into vehicles include:
- Acrylic foam tapes to attach body side moldings, trim and seals to vehicles
- Paint replacement (blackout) films to provide a flexible, cost-effective substitute for paint
- Paint protection films to preserve a new vehicle's appearance and reduce repair costs due to rock chipping and abrasions
- Graphic films and badges to allow decorative appearances and identity for both two- and four-wheel vehicles
- 3M™ Interam® Mat Mounts and Insulation to provide thermal and emissions solutions for catalytic converters
- Lead-free wheel weights on a roll, measured and cut to precisely balance wheels, while reducing inventory
By focusing on early conversations with customers to discover their needs, 3Mers create solutions for those needs by combining two or more core technology platforms. Thus, a number of solutions to address the automotive industry's most current priorities are created, including the following:
- Light management materials for LED lighting components and displays to enhance driver experience and comfort
- Glass microspheres to reduce the weight of polymeric parts for improved fuel efficiency
- High performance acoustic materials to reduce both noise and weight
- New materials for interior surfaces to contribute to greater authenticity along with increased recyclability
- Structural bonding adhesives, sealers and tapes to securely fasten multiple areas of today's vehicles, resulting in lighter weight and less corrosion
A total of 26 automotive sales and technical service centers, along with over 30 manufacturing facilities, is located around the world wherever vehicles are manufactured. In addition, three automotive research and development centers located in the U.S., Germany and Japan strive to maintain close ties with automotive OEMs and tier suppliers.