3M Co. took advantage of its sponsorship of a PGA tournament in Blaine this week to showcase its technologies and products — all with a bent toward golf.
The 3M Open Science Tour — which featured everything from the Maplewood-based company’s interactive displays and cables to heat-reflective roofing films and wall graphics — was supposed to debut Tuesday with the introduction of a large art installation by artist Patrick Shearn.
But powerful weekend storms walloped the “Symphonic Vision Skynet” installation, and it was dismantled on Monday. Undaunted, 3M officials forged ahead with dozens of other displays at the TPC Twin Cities golf course.
This is the first year for the 3M Open, which runs through Sunday with official rounds starting Thursday. It succeeds the 3M Championship, which was part of the PGA Tour Champions since 1993.
On Tuesday, the $33 billion manufacturer had some fun with its products, including a swing set and a swinging bench that used an adhesive so strong, it often replaces the rivets and welding once typically found in cars, planes and even golf clubs.
Officials also invited guests into the PGA’s golf club manufacturing shop near the 18th hole, where golf club maker Scott Garrison from Jacksonville Beach, Fla., used 3M’s two-step 810 epoxy to make a club for Brian Dwyer, a pro golfer who will play in the tournament.
Working in his trailer shop adorned with 3M graphics, Garrison ground down the shaft of the golf club using a 3M sanding belt and used a golf tee to mix two dabs of the company’s adhesives and coat them onto the club shaft.
“It cures in 15 minutes without heat. The … strength is so strong that gorillas are not taking this apart,” Garrison said while placing the head onto the Calloway Epic Flash driver, newly made for Dwyer.
Not far from his trailer sat the 3M Open Social Hub, a giant hospitality tent sporting a roof covered with the company’s radiative cooling film. Hundreds of golf fans came there Tuesday to grab food and hang out — with a taste of science — after watching their favorite pro golfers practice.
The roofing material, made with 3M’s thin, cloudy film, cooled the tent by reflecting the sun’s heat and mid-IR spectrum rays back toward the cold sky, without electricity.
Fraternal twins Cora and Ella Beeler, 14, and their sister Laney, 10, from Delano, ate ice cream while swinging on the swing set held together with adhesives.
“Just 3 grams of this can hold 10,000 pounds,” said 3M spokeswoman Denise Rutherford.
The adhesives replace or reduce the number of rivets and welding needed.
“It’s often used to lightweight” a product and reduce the number of nuts and bolts required, Rutherford explained to the Beeler sisters.
“It’s pretty cool. You can’t even tell it’s an adhesive,” said Cora, who along with her sisters has taken golf lessons for years.
Rutherford led a crowd over to an exhibit built by SkyCool Systems. The display sported two large sheets of aluminum — one bare and hot, the other covered with 3M’s cooling film.
“Touch under here. You can feel how much cooler this is,” she said while running her palm under the coated sheet.
Inside the hub building, 3M graphic adhesives decorated the walls and floors and paid homage to coverings regularly used in U.S. and Japanese cities to cover walls, buildings, buses and trains. An interactive graphic display used 3M cabling and magnetic black and white tiles to mirror the images of people passing by.
With her dad, Joel, watching, Ella Stacy, 8, posed again and again as sensors captured her image and posted her black and white outline on the giant tile board for all in the hub tent to see.
Outside, a robot made by Kuka Robotics used sensors and robotics to find and put golf balls into a hole.
Kuka America’s CEO Joe Gemma played a quick round of golf with the robot as he talked about his company’s relationship with 3M.
Kuka builds robots and sensors that help other manufacturers automate their metal polishing and finishing processes. Kuka’s genius, Gemma said, is that its sensors are programmed to “feel” when 3M sandpaper or other polishing abrasives are close to wearing out and need replacement. Such technology helps companies automate their polishing operations.