Mexico City — 3M Co. is moving its glass microspheres into greenhouse films for the agricultural market.
Using microspheres can allow producers to make more amounts of low density and linear low density film with the same amount of resin, application development engineer Fernando Cervantes said at Plastimagen 2016 in Mexico City.
Microspheres also can provide whiteness to films, allowing for the replacement of titanium dioxide, he added. The materials also can spread light over a greater area, which helps plant growth.
Development of microsphere films began last year in the U.S. St, Paul, Minn.-based 3M now is working with film producers on the new application.
In Mexico, 3M has operated an innovation center in San Luis Potosi since 2013. Overall, 3M has done business in Mexico since 1947 and employs a total of 7,000 there.
3M microspheres were used in body panels that were honored in November by the Society of Plastics Engineers' automotive division. The award went to General Motors Co. for body panels made using composite material from Continental Structural Plastics. Auburn Hills, Mich.-based CSP replaced calcium carbonate with hollow glass microspheres and a proprietary surface treatment to achieve mass reduction of at least 28 percent vs. standard materials.
In 2015, 3M posted sales of just over $30 billion. Its products include adhesives, abrasives and specialty materials.