22 LAS members visited 3M Singapore’s brand new headquarters at Ang Mo Kio, Techpoint on 27 July 2018. This was right after its inaugural opening in June the same year. The new headquarters also houses its 3M Customer Technical Center (CTC) facility. Our two hosts, Hafizah and Eric, started the session with a short presentation about the 3M story which started in America in 1902. 3M started as a mining company formerly known as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company and they have tirelessly harnessed science and applied it to numerous functions in life.
We learnt that through the years, with the emphasis on innovation, 3M now has its products sold in over 200 countries and their reach includes items such as household cleaning products, healthcare, safety, construction, electronics and transportation.
Their vision to use science and innovation to enhance, advance and improve have served them well. Using the 3M periodic table, Eric explained how 3M’s 46 core technologies are structured into the 4 main areas of materials, processing, capabilities and applications. The resulting research has led to 113,000 patents globally. In addition to technological advancement, customer and staff feedback are also a priority to achieving their success.
The highlight of our visit was the tour of their CTC filled with interactive displays and demonstrations showcasing the 46 technology platforms across 25 stations.
LAS members truly appreciated the fun hands-on element of the displays. For instance, to demonstrate how the right film can reject heat, everyone stood in front of two floor-to-ceiling glass windows one at a time. (See Image 4) A strong lamp directed heat at the glass, and we immediately felt the difference when we stood in front of the window using the 3M heat rejection film coating.
A crowd favourite “Let There Be Light” (a retroreflective photograph), showed the difference when a photograph was taken with and without a flash (See Image 5). Everyone was asked to use their mobile phone’s camera to take a photograph with flash at the designated photograph with the lights dimmed. We then compared the actual photograph on the wall with our image on the phone. The difference was striking and the purpose is to boost visibility during the day and to glow at night through reflectivity at wider angles, so vehicles driving at night would be clear to other motorists, thus enhancing safety and allowing the vehicles to be seen at night. The retro-reflective wrap film (Reflective Film) is designed not only for vehicles, but also for other various uses such as wall graphics.
Other noteworthy installations include the Curved Dark Tunnel showcasing similar 3M retroreflective solutions such as sign sheeting for road signs, guide signs and pavement markings that improve traffic safety and mobility to meet the requirements of today’s demanding traffic environment and the Construction site installation, demonstrating the 3M safety solutions in the form of harnesses and lanyards.
The health station showcased the different medical apparatus and adhesives which 3M is known for. Among other displays, the station also showed a heated mattress designed for the comfort of patients by preventing a sudden change in temperature during medical procedures.
At the dental care station, to illustrate teeth polishing, one member volunteered her own dollar coin as an example. It was polished and returned clean and shiny. The gold portion looked almost silver in fact!
The tour took 60 minutes and our last stop was the 3M shop. It was a sight to behold some of the widest arrays of adhesives all lined up on one large wall of the shop. Many of us bought items from their large selection of products ranging from household items to office stationery.
The tour was enlightening and we all left with an appreciation of how scientific innovation and knowledge nurtured in the right environment can result in amazing and innovative creations that improve the lives of all around.
Thank you to the LAS Programmes and Social Committee for organising this visit and to 3M for hosting us and sharing their vision and passion with us.
Submitted by Reena Kandoth, Librarian, National Library Board & Nursyeha Yahaya, Librarian, Singapore Management University