In my February 9, 2015 blog post “The intelligence of a molecule” I gave ‘an answer’ to the question what smart materials are, based on the report “Advanced Materials”.
Another answer is found at 3M, a US company with $ 30 billion turnover, $ 4.6 billion net income, and 88,000 employees in 67 countries (2013). Until 2002, 3M’s full name was Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (established 1902); the 3M Netherlands office is in Delft. 3M is the company behind many brands, such as Scotch (adhesive tape) and Post-it (memo sheets).
3M is a highly innovative company, where 37% of sales come from products introduced in the last five years (New Product Vitality Index, 2013). 3M cherishes an innovative culture that allows for instance that employees spend 15% of their time on projects of their own choice.
3M product innovations fall within no less than 46 technology platforms. Following the example of Mendelejev’s Periodic Table of Elements, these are shown in a blocks schedule, see the picture. Therein, each technology – in analogy to the elements – is identified on the basis of a two-letter abbreviation.
The researchers from 3M are especially looking for innovations that arise when you combine two or more of those 46 areas. For example, the Microreplication process (Mr) – applying tiny, precisely shaped structures – is used for making sandpaper (Ab).
Inspiration for entrepreneurs
For anyone considering to register for Startupbootcamp Smart Materials, I’ve listed the 46 technology platforms of 3M. For inspiration, not to take them headlong, because please remember that 3M has protected its innovations with patents. The examples are not exhaustive, but serve for clarification.
Ab Abrasives: for example sandpaper and grinding wheels.
Ac Acoustics Control: applications that absorb sound and dampen vibrations; in cars, computer disk drives and hearing protection; acoustic isolation in public buildings; this is an application of Nonwoven Materials (Nw).
Ad Adhesives: materials to attach objects to virtually any surface; adhesive tape and masking tape; in airplanes, cell phones, automobiles, medical dressing, disposable diapers; for hanging bathroom accessories.
Am Advanced Materials: materials in polymers, composites, ceramics, and other applications; in portable devices and other electronics.
An Analytical Science & Technology: fundamental research on new-to-the-world technologies, using the capability for measuring, characterizing, and understanding materials and processes; food safety; in combination with Inspection & Measurement (In).
As Application Software: software and devices for many innovations; in air filtration and RFID solutions; for libraries and health care.
Bi Biotechnology: materials for dentistry, biocompatible surgical tapes and dressings, transdermal patches for drug delivery, and antimicrobial cleansers; food safety; in combination with Microbial Detection & Control (Mi).
Ce Ceramics: ceramic materials for roofing, touchscreens, dentistry, abrasives, cars and airplanes; in combination with Metal Matrix Composites (Me).
Dd Drug Delivery: inhalers, patches for drug delivery, and microneedle drug delivery systems.
Di Display: applications that manipulate the transmission and reflection of light; for clear and durable LCD monitors, televisions, and automated teller machines; in combination with Light Management (LM).
Do Dental & Orthodontic Materials: materials for dentistry; durable, tooth-colored, and comfortable; in combination with ceramics (Ce).
Ec Energy Components: applications in fuel cell components, battery systems, solar cells; for generating and storing energy.
Em Electronic Materials: materials that improve the performance of electronic components, such as batteries and semiconductors; electrodes, electrolytes, anodes, cathodes, and membranes.
The 3M Littmann Stethoscope with Bluetooth technology, an innovation in auscultation and an application of smart materials
Es Electronics & Software: electronics and software for projectors and stethoscopes (with Bluetooth technology); these systems are the "brains" behind these products, for which Electronic Materials (Em) are used.
Fc Flexible Converting & Packaging: many applications for the last step of the manufacturing process, to tailor products to the customers’ needs concerning shape, size, and packaging; this leads to less waste.
Fe Flexible Electronics: applications for electronic circuitry and flexible polymer films; in inkjet printer cartridges, hard disk drives, and displays; this is an application of films (Fi).
Fi Films: films for bright LCD screens, darkened windows, and to prevent graffiti.
Fl Fluorinated Materials: materials for coatings, for example seals, gaskets, fuel hoses, and electronics.
Fs Filtration, Separation, Purification: applications for liquid and gas filtration and separation, in pharmaceuticals, food, chemical products; respirators and air filters.
Im Imaging: films, inks, and software for printing, displays, and signs.
In – Inspection & Measurement: advanced measurement equipment that help manufacturing to stay within the allowable tolerance, which is sometimes less than the wavelength of light; these systems are, in combination with Process Design & Control (Pr), used in Precision Processing (Pp).
Is Integrated Systems & Design: systems (software, electronics, and mechanical elements) that improve the functionality and usability of many products – simple (tape dispenser) and complex.
Lm Light Management: applications that affect the light on products, so signs, road marking and displays are easier to read and protective clothing stands out.
Md Medical Data Management: advanced software and consulting services for the processing of medical data in hospitals, in combination with Wound Management (Wo).
Me Metal Matrix Composites: lightweight materials in power plants and high-strength overhead electrical conductors; in combination with ceramics (Ce).
Mf Mechanical Fasteners: fasteners that can attach and detach materials – over and over again; Velcro; in disposable diapers, transportation, health care, sports equipment, and electrical products; for making these applications Microreplication (Mr) is used.
Mi Microbial Detection & Control: materials on the front lines in the fight against dangerous microbes; in surgical sutures and dressings; for the detection of salmonella.
Mo Molding: the molding of high-quality optical lenses, abrasives and films; in combination with Polymer Melt Processing (Pm).
Mr Microreplication: applying tiny, precisely shaped structures that give materials new properties; tiny prisms in road signs and displays; this process is used for making abrasives (Ab).
Nt Nanotechnology: nanomaterials for hard coatings, dental restoratives, monitors, adhesives, and pharmaceuticals; in combination with ceramics (Ce). Nanoparticles are just a few nanometers in size – a nanometer is one billionth of a meter.
Nw Nonwoven Materials: materials for medical tapes, abrasives, sound and heat insulation, and water filters.
Op Optoelectronics: applications in networks for the Internet with high demands for speed and reliability; in displays and sensors for health care, security and defense; for these applications ceramics (Ce) are applied.
Pd Particle & Dispersion Processing: creating and dispersing particles in solids and liquids; for abrasives, dental restoratives, inks, and films.
Pe Predictive Engineering & Modeling: predicting properties of yet-to-be-made materials; in electronic displays, flexibel circuits, and radio frequency identification (RFID).
Pm Polymer-Melt Processing: the processing of polymers into unique molecules in films; health care, electronics, and displays; in combination with Molding (Mo).
Po Porous Materials & Membranes: (semi) permeable materials for air filters, fuel cells, transdermal patches, and wound dressings.
Pp Precision Processing: efficient production of high-quality films.
Pr Process Design & Control: special design techniques that provide high quality and the ability to adapt products to local wishes; in combination with Inspection & Measurement (In), these techniques are applied in Engineering & Predictive Modelling (Pe) and Precision Processing (Pp).
Rp Radiation Processing: a special surface treatment of materials by radiation processing (ultraviolet light, electron beams, fast-paced laser pulses); in abrasives and films.
Se Sensors: sensors that respond to heat, light, pressure, radio waves, chemical or biological substances; biometric measurement equipment; coronary care.
Sm Specialty Materials: materials for catalysts, resins, easy-clean coatings, electrolytes, and lubricants; in combination with ceramics (Ce).
Su Surface Modification: the application of special surface properties on materials, such as receptivity to fluids, adhesiveness, hardness and reflection; in combination with Microreplication (Mr) and Vapor Processing (Vp).
Tt Track and Trace: applications for radio frequency identification (RFID); for tracking goods during transport, vehicle recognition systems, and library circulation systems; in combination with Flexible Electronics (Fe).
Vp Vapor Processing: the processing of vapor coating; in combination with Surface Modification (Su).
We Accelerated Weathering: to ensure that products for outdoor use are reliable under the toughest environmental conditions, materials are exposed to extreme weather.
Wo Wound Management: materials for absorbent and transparent dressings and surgical tapes; faster recovery and less risk of infection.
Click to check out the 3M technology platforms.
Dear entrepreneur, in which technology are you looking for a new application of smart materials?
Join Startupbootcamp Smart Materials!
You can register until March 13, 2015 via www.sbcsmartmaterials.com.
This blog post is a repost of my (Dutch) January 26, 2015 post.
Read my May 20, 2013 blog post about the reason why of my English reposts.