Research and development creating tailored solutions


3M’s product range meets a variety of applications.

A reliably clean water supply is critical to manufacturing businesses around the world. 3M explains how its filtration technology purifies water and removes contaminants efficiently to improve the performance of industrial equipment.

In 1902, 3M was founded in Two Harbors, USA. By 1914, Abrasive Cloth became the company’s first exclusive product. Ten years later, while testing abrasive samples at a body shop, Richard Drew, noted that painters were having trouble masking car parts. He had an idea which led to the invention of masking tape. The tape was a hit and the Scotch brand tape line was born.

In 1969, 3M products were used by astronauts in the first moon landing, including 3M Fluorel Elastomer, a synthetic rubber used in the astronaut’s boots worn inside the space capsule.

From the beginning, innovation has been at the forefront of the company’s success. The American multinational now has sales in more than 200 countries, with 96,000 employees, 200 sites and over 55,000 products.

Under the motto “science is just science, until you make it improve the world,” 3M places a focus on inventing products and building them in its R&D labs. Researchers and scientists spend 15 per cent of their time on self-initiated projects, freeing them up from day-to-day work to find new solutions to common challenges facing customers. The company invests 4-5 per cent of sales into capital expenditures to bolster its manufacturing plants in nearly 40 countries around the world. Cutting-edge science like robotics, 3D printers and laser cutters allows results in higher performing products at a lower cost.

3M established its International Division in 1951 and during the same year, 3M Australia was formed. Since then, the company has grown to service customers around the country. A team of over 600 employees provide products across 12 expertise areas, at the top of the list is its manufacturing prowess.

3M focuses on innovation to tackle filtration challenges.

Manufacturing is one of 3M’s fundamental strengths. One third of its technology platforms and a quarter of the patents it receives are related to manufacturing.

The company manufactures and converts in Australia at facilities in Blacktown and Guildford in Sydney. Some of the company’s filtration products are manufactured in the Blacktown facility.

Filtration and Separation

3M provides filtration products for the separation, clarification and purification of fluids and gases. Its proprietary technology is widely used throughout the global biopharmaceutical, industrial and water markets to make customers more successful. The 3M™ High Flow Filter System is for those manufacturer’s who want filtration efficiency and a small footprint within their industrial, chemical, petrochemicals, electronics or food & beverage applications.

The company has analysed, designed and manufactured solutions to meet specific customer applications for more than 90 years with advanced pleat technology, compound radial pleat design and membrane dissolved gas control technology.

Matt Stewart, ANZ sales manager said despite having a huge range of products with the best technology, identifying a customer’s pain points remains an upmost priority.

“We’ve got so many different solutions, some being proprietary which helps but at the end of the day the end user – whether that’s a process water manufacturer or a meat processing plant – all have pain points with water quality and how often they need to change their cartridges,” he said.

“So what we like to try and do is really focus in on the biggest challenge: is it money, is it cost, is it time? And we build up the solution around that.”

3M has two application engineers on the ground in Australia: specialising in industrial and bioscience applications respectively. Matt noted the sales team have the easy job opening doors for customer relationships, having the technical expertise to start the conversation before bringing in the application engineers to strategise the next steps.

The local team comprise of one sales manager, six territory managers, one inside sales rep, two senior applications engineers and two marketers, all of who are dedicated to support 3M’s purification business. Staff at the company’s Blacktown facility produce leading lines such as 3MZetaPlus.

The team has a combined 100 years of filtration experience from home water filtration through to biopharmaceutical purification

As well as having an extensive team in Australia, 3M can lean on its global network to customise its solutions.

5 per cent of 3M’s sales go into capital expenditures to bolster its manufacturing plants.

“We can step in from the very early stages of design and say: we need to know your flow rates, your temperatures and what you’re trying to achieve,” Stewart added.

“Then our technical team can build it from the ground up. But then we go as far as our development sites in the US, where they are constantly working on updating the equipment, the technology.”

Leveraging off trends and innovation overseas is an advantage, but only useful if it’s applied to an Australian context. Local manufacturers often are presented with similar challenges, which 3M’s team in every state apply specific solutions to.

“If a customer comes to us today with this specific problem and says they need to remove carbon dioxide from oil, we have specific teams on the ground here with the knowledge of Australian standards and engineers which are always available to the customer,” he said. “It’s all good and well being a multinational but if you’re not aware of the local standards and conditions, you set yourself up for failure.”

When businesses operate at the full capacity, they need filtration and dissolved gas control solutions that can keep up.

3Ms range of products for water filtration includes:

  • Surface Filter Cartridges: Extensive line of absolute-rated surface filter catridges can provide advantages in various applications and are available in multiple materials of construction, configuration and grades. Then see website for more info.
  • Charge Modified Filter Cartridges: Full line of charge modified depth filters trap contaminants through depth straining, but also via electro-kinetic absorption of particles smaller than the rated pore size. They’re composed of cellulose, a variety of application specific filter aids and proprietary binding resins.
  • Large Diameter Cartridge Systems: Meet the needs of a variety of applications with an extensive line of large diameter filter cartridges available in multiple configurations, sizes and grades
  • Bag Filters for industrial, automotive and oil and gas applications
  • Specialty Systems: unique products with critical advantages in specialty applications, from fine chemical filtration, to fully-enclosed systems, to advanced metal ion reduction solutions.

Stewart said 3M is in a lucky position, being a manufacturer who has a lot of customers who are manufacturers.

“There’s never any lost in translation between your specific action and what my technical guys have been reading because they speak the same language,” he noted. “Our advantage is we have local warehousing, local manufacturing, reps in each state, technical advice on the ground in each state and New Zealand as well.”