Mark Fairbanks is a lead test engineer for 3M in St Paul, Minn. 3M Automotive has been providing products to the auto industry for nearly a century. Currently 3M provides more than 1,000 products for this industry — everything from masking tape to specialty films, and from acoustic insulation to parts for catalytic converters.

3M Company spends more than $1.5 billion each year on research and development. Mark works at a specialized durability testing facility, helping develop and conduct tests of automotive products made by 3M and its customers. The goal is to determine how durable and robust these products are under real-world conditions.

"We can supply meaningful test data to OEMs and tier suppliers to support their needs in the auto industry, or to our product development people to support new products at 3M,"says Mark.

The 3M Automotive Division is a great example of why suppliers are so important to the development and manufacture of autos.

"There are many people supporting the building of an automobile with different types of products," says Mark. "Along that chain there are suppliers that aren't directly tied to the automotive industry, but yet they are important to the end result of a completed vehicle."