3M Company is known for its innovative products, and that’s reflected in the company’s substantial number of R&D 100 Awards wins over the years. 3M was one of R&D Magazine’s very first winners, getting an Award for its Electrical Curing Concept (1963).
Since then, 3M has been a regular participant--and regular winner--building up 30 standalone R&D 100 Awards over the last 52 years.
One of the 3M’s best-known innovations from R&D’s early years that earned a R&D 100 Award R&D’s early years was the Color Copier (1968). Branded the “Color-in-Color” copier, the innovation used a dye sublimation process and was the first color copier on the market. Eventually, electrostatic technology was developed that took over from this early approach to color copying.
3M was influential in the information technology and electronics industry for many years, and in the 1960s and 1970s the company introduced new technologies in their R&D 100 Awards-winning Television Film Recorder (1967), Programmed Visibility Traffic Signal (1971), Laser Beam Recording System Series 5000 (1974), Live Slides Sound Clip (1973) and the Video Cassette Contact Printer (1975).
These innovations mark some of touchstones of the early information age. The Television Film Recorder was the first example of an electron-beam recorder, a device that used a beam of electrons to transfer film footage from one format to another. This device was a key part of the television industry’s transition from Kinescope broadcasting to a standardized digital video format. Though little seen now, microfiche was a well-established data and information storage medium in the 1960s. 3M’s Laser Beam Recording System Series 5000 was the first computer-output-microfilm system using a laser to record high-quality alphanumeric symbols on microfiche.
Over the years, 3M expanded into other the fabrication of taggable microparticles (1978 Award) and optical fiber (1992 Award), but the company has never been far from its core capabilities, which are in materials such as coatings, adhesive, resins and plastics. Recemt awards centered around materials include the 3M Cubitron II Fibre Disc 982C and 3M Cubitron II Metalworking Belt 984F (2010) and the 3M Twin Axial Ribbon Cable (2011). The Cubitron II technology, which utilizes microstructured silicon grains to help preserve a sharp work surface with minimal degradation, earned 3M develop Wayne Maurer and his team an Editor’s Choice Award.
Oddly, 3M never did win an R&D 100 Award for its Post-It note, but it's possible that company was unable to enter that product at the time of its development. The editors are checking!
There’s still time to enter 2014 Awards!
In addition to a shorter, simpler form this year, the editors have decided to give participants an extra two weeks to prepare their submission. Friday, May 2 is the new deadline, so if you have a new product launched in 2013, consider entering!
What products qualify?
Any new technical product or process that was first available for purchase or licensing between January 1, 2013, and December 31, 2013, is eligible for the 2013 awards. This includes manufacturing processes such as machining, open source software, new types of materials or chemicals, and consumer-level products such as cameras. Proof-of-concepts and early-stage prototypes do not qualify, however; the submitted entry must be in working, marketable condition.
This year’s awards will be presented at our Gala Awards Banquet on Friday evening, November 7, 2014 in the Grand Ballroom at the Bellagio Las Vegas, Nevada—an entirely new, exciting venue for our awards with more surprises to be announced along the way.