Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company is a conglomerate corporation better known as 3M, manufacturing many products such as optical films, electronic circuits, electrical materials, dental products, passive fire protection, laminates, abrasives and adhesives. 3M has plants in more than six countries and employs around 75,000 workers.
Dr. J. Danley Budd, William A. McGonagle John Dwan, Herman W. Cable and Henry S. Bryan founded 3M in 1902. The company’s first product was sandpaper made from Spanish garnet. 3M bought its first laboratory in 1916 and started the invention of new products. The early inventions of the company were sound-deadening automobile materials, masking tape, waterproof sandpaper and of course “Scotch” tape, their icon product.
After World War II, the company opened many plants around the country in a rapid expansion. 3M went global in early 1950, and opened plants in the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Mexico and Canada. International sales reached $20 million by 1951.
3M produced various magnetic tape recorder models for studio sound recording, as well as instrumental use, and by the end of the 1970’s the company started manufacturing digital recording equipment. In 1980, Post-It Notes were introduced and quickly became one of 3M’s best known products.
At present, the Fortune 500 list places 3M at number 101 and the company continues to expand its product line. The company now realizes approximately $20 billion annually. About 58% of total sales come from international business.
3M previously manufactured dust masks used by many workers in various industries. Supposedly, they prevented individuals from inhaling asbestos dust and other dangerous toxins, but it was claimed the masks did not produce the protection the company promised. Some workers who used the masks developed mesothelioma, but it is not known in all cases if they were exposed before, during or after wearing the masks.
Mesothelioma is a particularly deadly form of cancer in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, heart or other organs. The fibers from asbestos are released into the air when it is handled. Those fibers are inhaled and embed themselves into the lining of the organs, causing cancerous tumors. It normally takes lengthy exposure to asbestos dust to cause asbestos related diseases. Because of this time period and the fact that the cancer grows so slowly, when mesothelioma is finally diagnosed, the doctors are left with few treatment options and the prognosis is not encouraging.