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3M Century of Highlights (1902 - 2002)










1904 - The first sandpaper is made;

1921 - The world's first water-resistant sandpaper is introduced:

1925 - Scotch® Masking Tape: Dick Drew conceived the idea for masking tape after watching automobile workers struggling with heavy adhesive tape that damaged paint jobs when it was removed. Scotch tape got its name when an auto painter proclaimed to a sales representative "take this tape back to those Scotch bosses of yours and tell them to put more adhesive on it!"

1939 - First traffic sign with 3M(TM) Scotchlite(TM) Reflective Sheeting: In 1937 3M researcher Harry Heltzer took on a challenge to create motorway medium strips that were more reflective at night than paint. Working on an idea to use glass beads, Harry dropped molten glass out of a window and retrieved the shattered bits to make the material required. 3M has further developed its reflective technology across a wide range of applications, including traffic signs, pedestrian warning signs and clothing.

1948 - The first nonwoven fabric: This revolutionary fabric has since been spun-off to produce Scotch-Brite® cloths, Thinsulate? insulating materials and surgical masks.

1951 - World's first photocopier: Several 3M researchers worked together to develop the technology for the world's first photocopier, which played a key role in establishing and expanding international businesses.

1956 - Scotchgard(TM) Fabric and Upholstery Protector: 3M lab assistant Patsy Sherman first "happened upon" the idea for Scotchgard(TM) in 1953 when she accidentally spilled a few drops of liquid coolant on her tennis shoe. She tried to remove the liquid with soap and water, alcohol and other solvents, but nothing worked. If it was impenetrable to solvents, it could protect textiles from stains and damage. With the help of her supervisor Samual Smith, Sherman completed the formula for Scotchgard(TM) . In 2001 the two 3M inventors were inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame.

1969 - 3M made the first footprint on the moon: On July 20, 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong left the first human footprint on the moon wearing boots with soles made of synthetic material from 3M. The company's tapes, plastics, sealers, adhesives and ceramics have long been part of spacecraft construction, including the innovative shielding technology that will protect astronauts on the international Space Station from meteorites and space debris.

1980 - Post-it® Notes were invented: The idea behind these world famous sticky yellow notes, that revolutionalised communication by message, came to life when 3M researcher Art Fry became increasingly frustrated when his paper bookmarks kept falling out of his church choir hymnal. Fry realised that a weak adhesive developed by 3Mer Spence Silver years earlier could make a wonderfully reliable bookmark.

1986 - World's first metered dose inhaler introduced: Invented by 3M scientist Charles Thiel, the metered dose inhaler enabled asthmatics to administer repeated dosages of medicine without cumbersome refilling procedures. The idea was born after the daughter of a 3M president asked "why can't they put my asthma medicine in a spray can like they do hair spray?" Today, over 70 million patients worldwide rely on metered dose inhalers for the treatment of asthma.

1991 - 3M(TM) Scotchshield(TM) Window Film: Developed by a team of researchers over two decades, Scotchshield window film substantially reduces the effects of flying shards of glass by holiday broken pieces together. The film is used in automobiles and buildings around the world, providing protection from high wind, vandalism, theft and high impact collisions.

1997 - The pharmaceutical division introduced Aldara(TM) (imiquimod cream): This cream is a part of a new class of drugs known as immune response modifiers, which stimulate the body's immune system to fight viruses. Aldara is a safe and effective treatment for external genital and perianal warts and is the leading treatment in the USA.


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