Tiny technology is secret behind many of 3M's biggest products

MPR uncovers some fascinating facts in a feature on 3M's microreplication technology: A microreplication machine is large enough to fill a house, but even most of the company's own employees aren't allowed to see them. The technology can make road signs better reflect headlights and dramatically improve abrasives, and now the company hopes to use it to develop patches of microscopic needles that would deliver vaccines painlessly.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

MPR uncovers some fascinating facts in a feature on 3M's microreplication technology: A microreplication machine is large enough to fill a house, but even most of the company's own employees aren't allowed to see them. The technology can make road signs better reflect headlights and dramatically improve abrasives, and now the company hopes to use it to develop patches of microscopic needles that would deliver vaccines painlessly.

Next Up

Related

3M eyes facial recognition technology despite privacy concerns

From social media to thwarting crime and terrorism, facial recognition technology is becoming a big business and one Minnesota company is looking to cash in. A couple years ago, Maplewood-based 3M acquired the California company Cogent, which develops a variety of identification systems, for nearly $1 billion. 3M Cogent marketing director Teresa Wu tells the Star Tribune, "The next step in applications will be face-in-the-crowd -- identifying people at long distance."

3M to acquire toll road technology firm

Maplewood-based 3M Co. has agreed to pay $110 million in cash to buy Federal Signal Technologies Group, which focuses on electronic toll collection and parking management software services.

3M technology could boost battery life 40 percent

Gadgets might run significantly longer or come much smaller thanks to a new innovation from 3M. The company has devised a new kind of battery component made of silicon that can significantly boost the amount of energy stored in conventional lithium ion batteries (the kind used in our gadgets).

3M to pay $1.3 million to British firm

The Porton Group and its partners filed a lawsuit claiming the Maplewood company failed to deliver on a promise to market a diagnostic test for hospitals. 3M made a multimillion-dollar deal to acquire the test in 2007, but much of the payout was tied to future sales. A year later, 3M had dropped the product, BacLite. The investment fund had sought $40 million in the suit. Both sides have claimed a victory in the case.

3M to invest $50 million in China

A 3M executive says the $50 million investment is part of a "five-year strategy for China to increase annual sales 15 to 20 percent." The Maplewood-based manufacturer plans to develop new technology and products for the China market -- 3M's biggest overseas market.