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3M Forward

3M delivers unique, materials science-based solutions at scale to help build a brighter future

3M Forward video
6 minutes, 50 seconds.

3M Forward: How 3M Science is Shaping the Future

  • Transformative, unstoppable global forces are shaping the world around us. These forces – identified as megatrends – can have far-reaching, disruptive impacts on businesses, economies, industries, societies and individuals that can last for decades. To better understand the source of these trends and their impact around the world, 3M is applying materials science-based innovations at scale to address climate change, demographic swings, social change and the digital revolution. 3M Forward demonstrates the ways science, innovation and collaboration enable our company to deliver unique, scalable solutions that help improve lives, drive progress and shape our world.

    Leveraging insights from the 2023 3M State of Science Index, a global, third-party research study that explores how people view a range of science-related topics, we can understand how the world sees these forces and the ways these trends are driving change in business and society. Understanding multiple megatrends can combine to have lasting impacts, 3M continues to deliver differentiated solutions in areas such as automotive electrification, climate tech, robotics and industrial automation and digitally enabled consumer solutions.

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    believe that in the future the world will be more dependent on scientific knowledge than ever before.

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    believe that science has a critical role in improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable populations.

  • Climate change and resource scarcity

    While global development has decreased the quality of life for many and led to significant environmental risks and impact, our research shows 90 percent of people around the world think science can help minimize the effects of climate change.

    One way 3M Science is addressing this challenge and advancing human progress is through our deep understanding of technologies including electronic systems, thermal management and computer vision to create solutions specifically designed to serve the growing global market for electric vehicles (EVs). 3M’s Automotive & Aerospace Division is making significant advancements in automotive electrification technologies. 3M technology helps advance lighter, more durable, energy-efficient connected vehicles. As a trusted partner of vehicle manufacturers around the globe, 3M offers a wide array of solutions to help advance battery performance such as thermal management, assembly, insulation and more. Innovation in the EV space is essential as society—and the automotive industry —continues to transition to more climate-friendly, lower carbon footprint options. Moreover, EVs generally offer a lower total cost of ownership (TCO), including vehicle cost, fuel cost, and maintenance, over the life of the vehicle.

    In addition to helping create the EVs of the future, 3M is engaged in using science for good by helping to create solutions that directly address alternate energy sources. Our Advanced Materials Division is applying materials science knowledge that could help make the production of green hydrogen more cost-effective and efficient. Leveraging support from the U.S. Department of Energy, 3M is developing a catalyst technology used in water electrolysis, which is the primary means of green hydrogen production. Since the catalyst technology reduces the use of rare and expensive precious metals while improving the efficiency and durability of the system, it can help improve the adoption and expansion of green hydrogen production.

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93% are concerned about the consequences of climate change.

Electric vehicles and hydrogen-powered cars are among the top transportation innovations that people see having a positive impact in creating a more sustainable world.

  • Shifting demographics and social change

    Defining global demographic factors such as age, race, income and education are continually shifting and changing over time. These changes significantly influence local and global cultural, economic and business decisions. Today, uneven demographic trajectories are leading to labor shortages. The rate of urbanization continues to grow as the world turns to technology to redefine the future of work and consumerism.

    To address labor challenges within manufacturing while improving productivity and quality, 3M is introducing automated technologies like the 3M™ Finesse-it™ Robotic Paint Repair System, which works with third-party vision systems to automatically identify and repair common paint defects on automotive production lines.

    3M is innovating to address new everyday ways of working. The recently launched Post-it® App for Microsoft Teams by the Stationery and Office Supplies Division empowers workers to collaborate with colleagues no matter where they live or work, providing more freedom and flexibility.

    As consumers contemplate climate issues and more people work from home, indoor air quality begins to come into sharper focus. Our Consumer & Home Improvements Markets Division is educating consumers about the importance of air quality and offering the Filtrete™ Smart HVAC Air Filter as a solution to help improve it. This state-of-the-art filter is designed to help remove allergens and other microscopic particles, like bacteria and viruses, from the air in homes. Its Bluetooth® sensor monitors airflow and usage, alerting the user when it’s time to change the filter, while the app also delivers active tips on how to improve the indoor air quality in their home.

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92% see a consequence if their country cannot find a solution to the shortage of skilled trade workers.

For people around the world, a top concern and consequence of climate change is poor air quality.

  • Convergence of the physical and digital world

    We live in a hybrid environment marked by a seamless blending of physical and digital consumer experiences. Companies are merging physical products with the digital worlds to create a holistic experience for consumers. Today’s digital capabilities are harnessed to meet physical needs.

    3M has a long history of innovating materials that make technology work. Our Display Materials & Systems Division is investing in building out the virtual reality (VR) of the future with pancake optics, which use 3M’s multi-layer optical films. For years, the bulky, heavy form of VR headsets has slowed consumer adoption. With pancake optics, 3M was able to reduce the overall headset size up to 50 percent while simultaneously improving image quality and resolution. These advancements are leading the next generation of optics and will help mixed reality reach new heights.

    Convergence is accelerating all around us, and we see it in solutions designed to speed the creation of almost everything. Our Industrial Adhesives and Tapes division, in collaboration with Nordson Corporation, has reimagined durable bonding with 3M™ VHB™ Extrudable Tape and the 3M™ On Demand Bonding System. This new, simple automated bonding solution easily integrates into a customer’s assembly line and provides efficiency, versatility, and sustainability. These innovations also lead to added benefits for consumers, such as shorter delivery times and lower production costs.

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80% believe artificial intelligence (AI) can help build a more sustainable future.

When asked what jobs make up the skilled trades, only 40% of people around the world said automation technicians were part of the skilled trades.