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[Interview Article] 3M Korea offers cutting-edge solutions for EV battery, chip companies


3M Korea offers cutting-edge solutions for EV battery, chip companies



By Baek Byung-yeul, The Korea Times - 3M is positioning itself as a pivotal player in the Korean market where its customers are taking a lead in the rapidly advancing electric vehicle (EV) battery and semiconductor manufacturing markets, according to Lee Jung-han, managing director of the U.S. manufacturing company’s Korean unit.


The company is focusing its efforts on optimizing battery performance and enhancing the efficiency of semiconductor processes, demonstrating its commitment to innovation and sustainability in these critical industries, the managing director said.


"Korea is rapidly growing as a market leader in the electric vehicle battery sector on the global stage. Accordingly, various sectors such as new businesses, products, and technologies introduced by 3M Korea are focusing on batteries," Lee said during an interview with The Korea Times, June 4.


"The most important issue for EV makers is battery optimization and effectively increasing the driving range per kilowatt-hour (kWh). 3M offers a variety of solutions related to battery optimization, including thermal management, thermal runaway prevention and electrical insulation."


He mentioned that 3M contributes to enabling Korean clients to create competitive products through solutions like delaying swelling caused by battery runaway and installing thermal barrier solutions between batteries and battery cells.


"Even though the EV battery business is going through a bit of a tough time now, I still think the future market outlook is bright. We have many components and materials that can help clients make their batteries safe and optimize efficiency. In that regard, we will continue to collaborate with battery companies to provide solutions that enable Korean companies to lead the global market and create a win-win situation," Lee said.


3M is also making significant strides in the semiconductor sector, particularly in chemical mechanical planarization (CMP), which refers to a process for removing the surface irregularities of silicon wafers in chip production.


The Korea head said that 3M is leveraging its proprietary Micro-Replicated technology to increase its presence in the CMP pads market.


"Our products have a significantly smoother and more uniform surface compared to competitors' products, and we can create various patterns according to the diverse needs of clients," he said. “3M's products have been highly praised by clients implementing processes below 10 nanometers. Also, in terms of the lifespan of CMP pads under mechanical stress, our CMP pads last two to three times longer than typical CMP pads."


3M Korea was established in 1977 as a joint venture between 3M and Doosan Group. In 1999, 3M acquired Doosan's stakes, making its Korean unit a 100 percent subsidiary.


The chief of the Korean unit said that the Korean market holds more than just market value for 3M, saying, "Korea serves as a hub for innovation and technological advancement, providing an important platform for 3M to continue growing and evolving."


"The Korean market plays a significant role in 3M's global strategy. Korean consumers demand high technology and quality, which drives 3M to continuously provide innovative and reliable products. For example, 3M has established significant partnerships in various industrial sectors in Korea. This is particularly evident in fields requiring advanced technology such as electronics and automotive," the managing director said.


“In a recent partnership, earlier this year, 3M signed an agreement with HD Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering (HD KSOE) to conduct a joint research project on a high-performance vacuum insulation system for liquid hydrogen storage and transportation. The agreement will see 3M's Glass Bubbles applied to HD KSOE’s vacuum insulation system for liquid hydrogen storage tanks, including insulation and construction workability evaluation, demonstration and classification approval,” Lee added.


Tackling climate change with technology


The managing director said that 3M has been developing various solutions to address global challenges such as climate change.


"Examples include the world's first self-charging protective communication headset, the 3M PELTOR WS ALERT XPV, the SOAR material created in collaboration with Svante to accelerate decarbonization and the paper-based padded automatable curbside recyclable (PACR) mailer material that companies can use to automate their packaging processes," he said.


3M has set goals to reduce its carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2025, 80 percent by 2040 and to achieve 100 percent carbon neutrality in its facilities by 2050.


He said that 3M has already achieved its global goal of increasing the use of renewable energy to 56.2 percent of total power consumption across its operations worldwide this year, therefore reaching the 50 percent target set for 2025.


'Work Your Way' system to boost employee creativity


The managing director said that 3M is creating a new, innovative work culture that enhances employee creativity through a flexible working system called Work Your Way.


Best known for its Post-it Notes, which were born of an accidental discovery by one of its researchers, 3M introduced the Work Your Way system in March 2022 during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing employees to choose whether to work on-site, remotely or a mix of both.


Lee said this new work system is based on trust and allows employees to set their work style to increase work efficiency and encourage more creativity.


"This system is creating a new innovative culture based on trust. The response from employees has been very positive, and most of them are happy with this system," he said.


He added that 3M Korea encourages a culture of embracing failure and learning, which has led to the creation of innovative technologies and products.


"3M understands innovation involves taking risks and not all ideas can succeed. By encouraging experimentation and learning from failure, 3M fosters a more innovative and adaptive mindset," the managing director said. "In Korea, 3M is running an award program called the Penguin Award to promote a culture of embracing failure and learning."


As the chief of the Korean unit, he expressed his desire to make 3M Korea the "best place to work."


"Strategy and vision are important for a company, and so is core technology, but what really ties them together is people. By enabling employees to think positively and motivating them, the organization's energy level increases. An energized organization cannot fail to succeed," he said.


 Source: https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/tech/2024/06/133_376145.html