3M research and development laboratory
For 3M, Belgium has been home to their European head office since 1963. Today, their 540 employees in Belgium are divided between their head office and sales offices in Diegem, and the R&D, Training and Expertise Centre and plant at the site in Zwijndrecht. 3M serves customers in important markets such as safety and industry, transport and electronics, healthcare and the consumer market. This translates into projects to reduce the weight of high-voltage cables to transport more power to more people, automating healthcare data to ensure the right people have the right information and improving manufacturing processes.
The site in Zwijndrecht (near Antwerp), first opened its doors in 1971. On site is the factory, Research & Development Center and, as of April 2018, a Training & Expertise Center. 300 employees are active here in production, research, product development and customer training.
3M head office in Diegem, and the R&D, Training and Expertise Centre and plant in Zwijndrecht
The factory produces semi-finished products for other 3M branches. Examples include adhesives for Scotch® tapes, high-quality synthetic rubbers for the automotive and chemical industries and coolants for the electronics sector. A current project in the 3M pipeline in Belgium is the new production line for 3M Novec™ 1230, a high performance fire extinguisher.
The 3M research & development laboratory in Zwijndrecht is where collaboration creates innovation. A team of 50 specialist researchers and product engineers lead the process from the lab to market production. Innovation is also a core activity among 3M employees, who are encouraged to spend 15% of their working time on their own projects and research. This is “3M Science. Applied to life”.
The 3M Customer Technical Center (CTC) is a modern training and expertise center for companies and organizations that want to innovate and train their employees. They can follow as many as 50 different training courses at the Zwijndrecht site. Examples include personal safety and fall protection, car body repair and car wrapping. But also training in connecting, finishing, sanding and polishing materials. Together with technical experts from 3M, companies in the CTC can also work on product and process innovation.
Employees working in the Customer Technical Center (left) and in the R&D lab (right) in Zwijndrecht
Good collaboration with the Belgian chemical industry and knowledge institutes is essential to 3M to further their goal of using science to improve lives around the world. By drawing on the wealth of knowledge from industry experts in Belgium, 3M can continue to innovate to better serve customers.