3M identifies worldwide materials science trends and plots its own course 2023

3M Forward shows how materials science-based innovation at scale can help humanity grow despite three inexorable forces: climate change and resource scarcity, shifting demographics and social transformation, and convergence of the physical and digital worlds. 3M Forward showcases how 3M scientists, engineers, and professionals are improving the future.

Mark Copman, 3M senior vice president, new growth initiatives, says: “The global forces highlighted within 3M Forward are disruptive, but we see them as catalysts for new advances in science and positive societal impact.

“Science can solve the toughest global challenges, and 3M’s diverse global portfolio and vast expertise make us optimally positioned to imagine what’s possible and build what’s next.”

Climate change and shortages

Global industrialization and declining natural resources have harmed the ecosystem and accelerated climate change. Without immediate action, climate change will continue to harm vulnerable people, businesses, and ecosystems in new locations.

Ipsos’ 3M State of Science Index found that 93% of people worldwide are concerned about climate change’s implications and 90% believe science can mitigate them.

“We see the broadening consensus for climate action and growing demand for innovative and sustainable solutions reaching an inflection point,” says 3M senior vice president and chief sustainability officer Gayle Schueller.

“Our robust innovation pipeline allows us—and our customers—to accelerate and scale up existing science-based solutions in the critical areas of decarbonization, energy transition, and circular economy.”

In its recent cooperation with Svante, 3M is speeding the delivery of new climate solutions to support a low-carbon economy. 3M and Svante will develop DAC products for the Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) market.

The company is also developing a 3M Nanostructured Supported Iridium Catalyst Powder that could make green hydrogen production more cost-effective, efficient, and accessible, enabling a more sustainable fuel solution for manufacturing and industries that are hard to electrify, like long-haul trucking and steelmaking.

3M is also expanding its portfolio of climate solutions, which are making homes and businesses more energy efficient, reducing raw material use and waste, optimizing electric vehicles, and modernizing the grid to integrate renewable power generation in global markets.

Social and demographic shifts

Globalization changes education, sustainability, equity, and technology. It has far-reaching effects. Social changes bring personal and professional possibilities and problems. As technology changes employment and consumerism, urbanization rates rise, yet a shrinking rural population might affect supply chains and labor shortages.

“3M is innovating to meet the shifting needs and values of people around the world – whether they need solutions for the evolving nature of their work or within their homes,” says Mike Kesti, senior vice president, 3M corporate research lab.

“3M’s technology platforms and global manufacturing infrastructure enable us to efficiently scale and deliver impactful solutions to our customers and society.”

3M’s innovations are as diverse as the people they help. Clinician Solutions Portfolio helps healthcare practitioners focus on patients and improve health outcomes by decreasing administrative burdens.

3M is introducing automated technologies like the 3M Finesse-it Robotic Paint Repair System, which uses third-party vision systems to automatically identify and repair common automotive paint defects.

3M created The Post-it App for Microsoft Teams to enable new work styles. The software allows hybrid teams to communicate handwritten notes and take action on projects from anywhere, giving workers greater freedom and flexibility.

Physical-digital convergence

Software, sensors, AI, and HMIs enable industry, commerce, and daily life in a fast-changing global ecosystem. After the COVID-19 epidemic, humans are more dependent on these interfaces.

3M thrives in an intersectional world created by rapid technological breakthroughs and networked systems.

“3M technologies deliver more seamless connectivity between the physical and digital worlds,” says 3M executive vice president, chief technology officer, and environmental responsibility John Banovetz.

“3M is advancing industrial automation to streamline processes and leverage 3M materials in new ways, boosting the power and performance of our customers’ products and optimizing their production processes.”

3M leads optical materials technology and enables VR. 3M pioneered pancake lens VR headsets. Pancake optics increase visual resolution and headset size with 3M’s unique reflective polarizer technology.

VR technology is expected to become popular because of these benefits. The 3M On Demand Bonding System with 3M VHB Extrudable Tape uses adhesive science and automation to decrease waste and increase manufacturing efficiency.

3M is also creating linked products like the Filtrete Smart HVAC Air Filter for customers. This technique traps allergies, germs, and viruses from household air. It analyzes airflow and consumption, not just time, so homeowners never have to worry about changing their filter too early or too late.

Scaling science-based ideas for a better tomorrow

3M uses the latest materials science-based innovations and its full capabilities to deliver meaningful solutions that help society progress as climate change, resource scarcity, shifting demographics, and convergence of the physical and digital world continue to shape our reality.

3M innovation has resulted in over 132,000 patents and 60,000 products across varied sectors. 3M’s worldwide range and extensive knowledge provide scalable scientific solutions and brighter futures.

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