Exploring 3M’s Pioneering of Advanced 3D Printing Solutions in Manufacturing Industry



Charles R. Goulding and Preeti Sulibhavi discuss 3M Technologies’ robust economic performance in the third quarter.

3M Technologies (3M) is a global powerhouse of innovation in terms of novel products and diversified areas of expertise. Its wide-ranging products and customer solutions include automotive, design & construction, manufacturing (everything from appliances to metals), commercial solutions (including cleaning products), electronics, oil & gas, energy, healthcare, transportation and safety products. The list of identifiable products is limitless.

“Forever chemicals” or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are substances found in a wide variety of industrial activities and consumer products. These chemicals are of concern since they have recently been detected in groundwater, drinking water, and soils at harmful levels in many communities.

3M has been contending with several liability issues relating to forever chemicals, but they have resolved some key allegations. The company saw a strong financial performance in the third quarter.

3M and 3D Printing

In a groundbreaking move, fully fluorinated polymers, such as 3M Dyneon PTFE, can now be processed through 3D printing. 3M has developed an exclusive technology that could enable manufacturers to sidestep the costs and time involved in traditional processing techniques. The melding of this extraordinarily adaptable fluoropolymer and 3D printing paves the way for boundless opportunities. As per 3M itself, these benefits encompass:

  • Manufacturing parts with intricate geometries
  • Quick creation of prototypes
  • Melding multiple components
  • Bypassing the need for costly tooling
  • Decreasing machined material

PTFE and print-on-demand merge in a novel 3D printing development by 3M. The pioneering process by 3M employs stereolithography, also known as vat polymerization, which cures a photosensitive material by selectively delivering energy to precise regions. The resulting printed parts exhibit characteristics similar to those produced by conventional PTFE processing techniques. Interestingly, some traits such as the surface finish might even surpass those of the traditional process. Although 3D printing is planned to supplement rather than supplant traditional fluoropolymer processing, it holds the advantage of producing highly precise and complex parts swiftly with minimal waste, enabling rapid adaptation to fluctuating customer demands.

Moreover, the incorporation of 3D printing has proved helpful in processing abrasives at 3M.

The inside diameter (ID) grinding requires a specialized high-precision grinding wheel, and it is through the use of 3M abrasives for precision grinding and finishing that dependable, repeatable ID grinding is attainable. Materials such as ceramic, aluminum oxide, and silicon carbide minerals are commonly used conventional abrasives for ID grinding, with the choice depending on the substrate, hardness of the material, and other production factors.

Source: 3M Abrasives via YouTube

For the first time, 3M is applying 3D printing technology to abrasive manufacturing. By 3D printing precision super abrasive wheels, they have set a new standard for precision-structured internal diameter grinding tools, with unprecedented geometric flexibility and customizing capabilities. This inherent design freedom opens new possibilities for the most complex internal grinding (IG) applications.

3D printing applied to abrasive manufacturing [Source: 3M]

The applications for 3D printing at 3M are endless. We hope 3M continues to utilize innovative technologies such as 3D printing in developing its unique and useful products.

The Research & Development Tax Credit

The permanent Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit is accessible for businesses that are developing new or improved products, processes, and/or software.

3D printing can enhance a firm’s R&D Tax Credits. The salaries of technical staff who create, test and revise 3D printed prototypes can be counted as a proportion of eligible time spent for the R&D Tax Credit. Likewise, when it’s used to enhance a process, time invested in incorporating 3D printing hardware and software is considered an eligible activity. Finally, when utilized for modeling and preproduction, the cost of filaments used during the development phase may be recouped.

Whether it is used for creating and testing prototypes or for final product production, 3D printing is a strong indicator of R&D Credit eligible activities. Businesses that implement this technology at any point should think about exploiting R&D Tax Credits.

3M book R&D expenses per employee Source: R&D Tax Savers

“We Invented Post-its!”

Whether it is the Scotch tape you use to seal your mail or the Post-it note you used to confirm something you just left on your colleague’s desk, 3M affects most if not all of our daily lives. It is impossible to ignore this company’s wide-ranging portfolio of products or its third-quarter success this year. It demonstrates 3M’s ability to bounce back after hardship. We hope it will continue its 3D printing efforts to bolster its success.

Original source


“Why did the 3D printer go to therapy? Because it had too many layers of unresolved issues!”

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Meet the mastermind behind NozzleNerds.com: GCode-Guru, a 3D printing wizard whose filament collection rivals their sock drawer. Here to demystify 3D tech with a mix of expert advice, epic fails, and espresso-fueled rants. If you've ever wondered how to print your way out of a paper bag (or into a new coffee cup), you're in the right place. Dive into the world of 3D printing with us—where the only thing more abundant than our prints is our sarcasm.


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