Customer Successes

3M Secures Aircraft With Adhesives and Polymers

March 2004 — For more than 100 years, 3M, based in Maplewood, Minnesota, has been known for inventing innovative products — from Scotch, masking and refastenable diaper tape to cleaning pads and sand paper — that have become a part of our everyday lives. The company's adhesive products have grown to be instrumental in hundreds of industries, including airline development, repair and maintenance.

Background Information

3M's Aerospace and Aircraft Maintenance division is a leading supplier of adhesives, coatings and sealers for military and commercial aircrafts. Adhesives play an essential role in the assembly of thousands of parts of an aircraft. Behind the design and selection of the adhesives, and associated materials, are critical evaluations and calculations. By tracking and managing the calculations as a design and engineering process, 3M engineers can re-use tested calculations to reduce the risk of error, shorten development time and increase productivity.

Mike Daniels, senior research specialist and 30-year veteran of 3M, develops and researches adhesives and polymers for the Aerospace and Aircraft Maintenance division. The materials used on the exterior of an aircraft must withstand extreme conditions, including 500-plus mile-per-hour wind speeds, frequent abrasive wear, freezing temperatures and extreme heat as well as significant stresses. Each adhesive and material undergoes rigorous testing and characterization that entail complex calculations to transform raw data into useable information. The calculations, and the rationale that goes into the calculation, are documented on worksheets allowing Daniels to easily share the critical information and calculation rationale with his team — which enhances information flow.

"Each calculation is treated as an essential transformation of data to practical application during the development of adhesives. That's why the ability to archive and visualize each calculation is so important," Daniels explained.

'Managing the Calculation Facilitates Collaboration'

"Documenting and managing the calculation also facilitates collaboration with my colleagues," Daniels added.

For the last decade, Daniels has been using PTC Mathcad, the internationally recognized standard for technical calculation and applied mathematics, which is currently used by more than 1.5 million engineers worldwide.  PTC Mathcad enables Daniels to model, manipulate and manage mechanical property data for polymers and adhesives, which are used on many of 3M's and its customers products. Using  PTC Mathcad patented self-documenting, live-math interface, Daniels generates complex calculations that determine the behavior of polymers and adhesives when exposed to stresses and strains over various temperatures and ranges of time.

The PTC visual "whiteboard" design environment allows engineers to easily capture, apply and manage their calculations. Rather than conceal calculations in unreadable code or hide formulas behind cells in spreadsheets,  PTC Mathcad makes it easy for engineers to communicate the rationale that goes into their calculations, enabling design quality assurance and verification, as well as facilitating re-use of frequently performed calculation routines.

'Visualize the Rationale Behind the Calculation'

"PTC Mathcad is a very important aspect of my job. With Mathcad, the process of creating new calculations and ability to visualize the rationale behind the calculation significantly simplifies and speeds up the entire process of testing and evaluating polymers," said Daniels. "Mathcad lets me use time-temperature super position methods, which generate master curves and then seamlessly allow me to document my work. I can easily change and test variables and see the effect on the whole model. I think you can easily see the value of managing and storing calculations for a global manufacturing company like 3M."

About 3M

Every day, 3M people find new ways to make amazing things happen. Wherever they are, whatever they do, the company's customers know they can rely on 3M to help make their lives better. 3M's brands include icons such as Scotch, Post-it, Scotchgard, Thinsulate, Scotch-Brite, Filtrete, Command and Dyneon. Serving customers in more than 200 countries around the world, the company's 67,000 people use their expertise, technologies and global strength to lead in major markets including consumer and office; display and graphics; electronics and telecommunications; safety, security and protection services; health care; industrial and transportation. For more information, including the latest product and technology news, visit

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