Thank you, 3M!

3M logo with motto.jpg

In our day-to-day lives, we are rarely more than 10 feet away from 3M technology. 3M is a company rooted in scientific exploration and discovery, and they are ever evolving. They believe that science is just science until it is used to solve a problem. And that is exactly what is reflected in their vision: 3M technology advancing every company, 3M products enhancing every home and 3M innovation improving every life.

And for those of us at UM Solar Car, 3M’s unique versatility could not be more evident. For the 2015 race cycle, 2016 American Solar Challenge, and our most recent 2017 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, 3M provided us with a multitude of equipment including, but not limited to: DP 460 glue, 471 vinyl tape, electrical tape, glass bubbles, duct tape, sandpaper, orbital sanders, full body suits, and respirators for safety.


3M has been an invaluable sponsor to the team, and a quick walk through our workspace will show the absolute ubiquity with which we use 3M’s tape, adhesives, and safety equipment.

The 471 vinyl tape serves a crucial role through its adhesive strength as it holds the fairings to the chassis of the car and eliminates gaps between individual components so as to maximize aerodynamic efficiency.

The full body suits and respirators have proven essential through their reliability and durability as they are staple tools in making sure our team members stay safe and clean when working with components which could potentially pose health risks.


The electrical tape and heat shrink insulate the wires of the vehicle, preserving the functional and structural integrity of our electrical components, and the vinyl car wrap aesthetically topped off Novum, providing her with a sleek, colorful appearance and complementing her already strong aerodynamic efficiency.

In our most recent race, the 2017 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge through the Australian Outback, we were exposed to terrain which challenged us and pushed us to our technical, mental, and physical limits. As a team, we were working with the novel, boundary-pushing design of our smallest vehicle yet, Novum. Along with this came exceedingly rigorous scrutiny, planning, and labor, both internal and external.

However, 3M’s products and support were key in helping us maintain the structural integrity of our vehicle and the well-being of our team members, allowing us to power through with Novum and race to 2nd place, our best yet World Solar Challenge finish.

According to UM Solar Car Operations Director Vignesh Jagathese, "3M has consistently helped the University of Michigan Solar Car Team through our toughest design cycles. 3M products are heavily used in our manufacturing process, and the high quality of their products helps us build the fastest car possible."

It would take pages to fully describe the value that 3M so graciously provides us as a team, but the overarching idea can be summed up in one phrase: 3M holds us together, both literally and figuratively.

Thank you, 3M, for being everything from the shield that protects us to the adhesive that binds us. We look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in the future!

Thank you, 3M

The University of Michigan Solar Car Team and 3M share a close partnership. 3M provides Michigan with a vast array of products that aid the team with everything from team safety to structural support and aerodynamics.

3M keeps our team members safe while working on the car with such products as respirators, which prevents them from inhaling substances that can hurt the lungs, such as carbon dust or tooling board dust. 3M provides Personal Protection Equipment, as well; while working on the car or on the team’s semi, team members sport 3M full-body suits. The team extensively uses other safety fundamentals, like 3M electrical tape and heat shrink, which insulate wires, adding protection. All of these contributions by 3M were vital for team well-being during solar car Aurum’s build cycle.

UM Solar Car team member dons 3M protective full-body suit and respirator.

UM Solar Car team member dons 3M protective full-body suit and respirator.

Aurum won the University of Michigan its ninth overall American Solar Challenge title, and 3M products keep it structurally sound. Aurum is held together by 3M adhesives. DP 100, DP 105, DP 420, DP 460, VHBthese are all very strong adhesives that play key roles in Aurum’s make-up. For example, the glue DP 460 bonds the car’s chassis, its basic frame, to the lower portion of its body. VHB (Very High Bond) tape holds Aurum’s solar array to the upper. The team also uses 3M’s 471 vinyl tape to tape the car’s seams together, to tape the fairings to the body of the car, and to tape the upper to the lower. During every charging period of the 2016 ASCevery morning, every night, at every checkpoint, and at every Stage stopMichigan’s race crew un-taped and re-taped the car. The team uses 471 vinyl for this because it is effective, lightweight and easy to both remove and replace. This facilitates the charging process, which involves detaching the upper from the lower and angling it so that the array points towards the sun.

The team applies 3M 471 vinyl tape to Aurum.

The team applies 3M 471 vinyl tape to Aurum.

471 vinyl tape also has aerodynamic merit; by covering the car’s seams, it helps with minimizing drag, thus maximizing aerodynamics. 3M helps Michigan create the most aerodynamic vehicle possible with sanding materials as well, like sandpaper and orbital sanders. Michigan uses these tools to make the car’s surface smoother. This makes the car more aerodynamic, which, in turn, means it consumes less power. Aurum’s aerodynamic body was a huge reason it won the 2016 ASC as the only car to finish solely on solar power3M had a hand in reaching that aerodynamic standard.

After the race, 3M hosted the UM Solar Car Team at its headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota. While visiting, the team gave a presentation on how the ASC had gone and how we used 3M products to build Aurum.

UM Solar’s 2016 ASC Race Crew at 3M headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota.

UM Solar’s 2016 ASC Race Crew at 3M headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Members of 3M’s team gave UM Solar a tour of the 3M Innovation Center and showed us many exciting products they had invented like reflective films. 3M also presented the team with more 3M products that the team could use in the upcoming build cycle for the 2017 World Solar Challenge. We look forward to working with 3M on incorporating some of these technologies into our 2017 car and on furthering our partnership.

In 2014, Aurum was built with 3M. In 2016, Aurum crossed the ASC finish line held togetherquite literallyby 3M. Now, in 2017, we look forward to working with 3M on our new car. Thank you, 3M.