1. License plates for a cause: How does it work?
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  • License plates for a cause: How does it work?

    By Sue Casement, 3M Storyteller and Monica Hanson, 3M Videographer

    Brian Satterlee, 3M manufacturing operations supervisor, holds up the graphic from his favorite license plate, Florida’s Animal Friend Plate.

    • Adopt a shelter pet. Support veterans. End Alzheimer’s.

      You might see these messages along with eye-catching reflective graphics on your daily commute. These plates give you a chance to support a cause you love and share your view with the world as you tool around in your vehicle.

    • What’s the journey to get a new plate into circulation? It varies from state to state, but if you visit your local DMV website, you can find out the process for your location.

      Before states start producing plates, they often require a specific number of pre-ordered plates. For example, South Carolina required 500 orders of their Save the Bee plate before they would start printing them. Typically, the DMV may collect a one-time application fee from the driver and the annual contribution fee goes entirely to benefit non-profit organizations.

      Only in recent years has it even become possible to create such a wide variety of artistic options. Brian Satterlee, 3M manufacturing operations supervisor, explains that license plate graphics have grown dramatically more complex in recent years. “Both design applications and print technologies have played an important role in our abilities to produce more detailed, photo-quality graphics,” he says. What’s his favorite plate? Florida’s Animal Friend Plate – a perfect example of how life-like graphics can be.

    • Graphic showing that Minnesota’s Support Our Troops plate includes a minimum contribution of $30 to support military families and homeless veterans.

      Where the money goes

      Out of the total fee, Minnesota’s Support Our Troops plate includes a minimum contribution of $30 to support military families and homeless veterans.

      80 percent of U.S. specialty license plates graphics get printed in Brownwood, Texas. See how it’s done below.

    Video showing how specialty license plates graphics are printed
    View Video

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    These graphics are just one way science plays into your experience on the road. Explore trends, industry insights and ways we deliver expertise on science and technology.