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  • How 3M Scientist Cheryl Moore tackled a whale of a dilemma.

    April 20, 2022

    A bandage for a whale. Adhesives for electronics. A stretchy solution for quick healing.

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    Cheryl Moore helped create all these and more in a single lab in St. Paul, Minnesota. From 1972 to 2013, she came in to work each day to the same lab while growing a successful career and making big advances for health care and beyond.

    Cheryl started in the 3M lab as a technician – an entry-level position – and earned her degree in night school. About 20 years later, she received the highest honor awarded to 3M scientists – she was inducted into the Carlton Society for helping develop new adhesives used mostly for health care. Five years after that, she was named a corporate scientist – the top level in the research and development community.

    “It’s not about winning an award; it is the passion for what you do that drives you,” says Cheryl. “I realized that if my work on new adhesives was successful, it would create jobs for people. That was rewarding.”

    One of Cheryl’s more interesting projects came to her when the Minnesota Zoo needed help. During the late 1970s, one of their two beluga whales needed a bandage. Cheryl tackled the problem with a brand-new adhesive 3M was testing – and it worked. The same adhesive later came to be used in waterproof bandages for people.

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    Creative solutions

    The technology she developed for medical use also turned out to be great for other industries. When a bandage or medical device needs to stick to the skin, it also needs to be cleanly removed – without sticky residue. This “low-residual adhesive” crossed into other applications, including electronics. Cheryl found success through cross-collaboration with teammates. A request came into the 3M Health Care team to develop adhesive bandages with a lot of stretch. Patients wanted more comfort and health care providers were concerned about faster healing. They needed a barrier that let the wound breathe while protecting it from outside moisture. Cheryl and her fellow scientists knew they needed a very thin film. She worked with an expert in film while she and another coworker developed an adhesive that worked with the film. In the early 1980s, they launched a new solution that is still one of 3M’s most-loved product lines today .