Not-so-accidental inventions

There are a lot of legends floating around 3M about our inventions and how they came to be. Some of the best of these stories are about “accidental inventions,” like Scotchgard, which was discovered by a chemist working on a new material for jet fuel lines. An assistant in the lab spilled a bottle of latex material on her shoe, and the chemist noticed that the substance stuck to the white shoe and resisted soiling.

If 3M were not such a diverse company, however, this discovery might have gone nowhere—as it didn’t have much to do with jet fuel lines. What’s helpful about our size is that it allows us to take innovations from one division and apply them in many others. For example, the same technology used in the Pentamix™ Automatic Mixing Units in your office is also applied to automotive repair with the 3M™ Dynamic Mixing System. And the nanotechnology that is the backbone for our Filtek™ Supreme Ultra Universal Restorative is also helping to create the next generation of fishing rods.

So while some of our legends are about accidents, many more are about collaboration between divisions, and finding new applications for existing technologies. By working this way, we can make one invention into many.


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