The company is probably best known for inventing two of the most ubiquitous office products of the 20th centuryScotch transparent tape and Post-It Notes. However, 3M was founded in 1902 in Two Harbors, MN, when five businessmen agreed to mine a mineral deposit for grinding-wheel abrasives. The deposits proved to be of little value, and the new Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co. quickly moved to nearby Duluth to focus on sandpaper products. The world’s first waterproof sandpaper, which eased the health problem of sanding dust, was developed in the early 1920s.
A major milestone occurred in 1925 when Richard G. Drew, a lab assistant, invented masking tapean innovative step toward diversification and the first of many Scotch brand pressure-sensitive tapes.
The present-day company has moved beyond sandpaper and adhesive tape products. It has been an innovator in recording and video tape, photographic products, and medical and dental devices.
The 1990s set new sales records of over $15 billion annually. 3M’s growth has been fueled by a desire to participate in markets where the company can make a contribution from core technologies, rather than be dominant in just a few markets.
The company’s core technologies are:
Light managementthe science of optics combined with the nature of light.
Film solutionsinnovation in film technology.
Fuel cellselectrochemical devices that convert fuel into usable electricity without using combustion.
Light fibervisual effects with light that withstand water, sunlight and varying temperatures.