Page 7: Innovative applications: multi-layer films
3M produces a range of multi-layer films which draw their inspiration from nature, particularly the glittering blue wings of the Morpho butterfly which are created without the use of colour pigment. By combining films in layers similar to those of a Morpho butterfly's wings, 3M has produced multi-layer films which reflect in the same way, whatever the light angle.
3M recognises that it is not the technology itself that is important but its commercial application. To date, applications for these films include LCD displays, so increasing screen brightness, reducing screen glare and providing viewing privacy. The brighter screen means energy efficiency and smaller batteries, enabling smaller equipment. Examples include: screens in laptop computers and personal digital assistants (PDAs) - and extend to fast growing, exciting applications such as the latest coloured mobile phones, car navigation displays and rear-projection televisions.
Working as a focused team in the UK, the Enterprise Growth Team identified two specific new applications for multi-layer films which are delivering strong sales growth:
- 3MTM Thin Sign Technology. By combining three different types of multi-layer film, 3M has created a new display solution, with the advantages of the latest 'edge lit' sign technology at a price more consistent with traditional lower-cost, back-lit alternatives. The new technology also means the illuminated signs use less energy and generate less heat, thus reducing air conditioning costs when used, for example, in stores.
- Decorative applications on luxury goods. The film creates an attractive colour effect, helping to differentiate the product and add value. Uses include CD covers, perfume packaging, Kylie Minogue's tour brochure and latest DVD, greeting cards, and even designer lampshades.