3M has introduced a new adhesive tape that can stick to the skin for up to 28 days for use with medical monitors, sensors and wearables — a significant improvement over the industry's standard wear time.
The company is marketing the tape to medical device makers and original equipment manufacturers.
Known to consumers as the maker of Scotch tape and Post-it notes, 3M has more than 55 years of medical adhesion experience. The company produces more than 200 medical tapes and films.
"If you think of a Post-it note, you want to be able to remove it without damage to whatever you've stuck it to. You think of skin in the same way," said Chad Reed, director of global business for 3M medical materials and technologies. "You want to stick something to the skin and be able to remove it without damage to the skin."
The target market is wearable medical devices, for example, glucose monitors.
As device manufacturers work through developing a new device, they will incorporate the 3M adhesive, which can be worn in wet conditions, and will not fall off due to sweat.
"It is usually a patch," Reed said. "Most patients won't have any idea that a 3M product is incorporated into that device."
Before last year, the industry standard wear time for medical adhesives was up to 14 days. In April 2022, 3M debuted an adhesive — 3M Medical Tape 4576 — that could last for up to 21 days. 3M developers in the U.S. and Japan spent about a year devising that longer-lasting adhesive.
The newest adhesive is 3M Medical Tape 4578, which can last for up to 28 days.
"This is a huge innovation," said Michael Fry, senior principal product engineer with St. Paul-based Minnetronix Medical, a contract manufacturer of medical devices. "Longevity of the adhesive is an important factor. It really helps to lessen the intrusion on the patient's life."
Minnetronix currently has six wearable products under development and production. Patients with wearables using the new tape will not need to switch patches as often. As a result, Fry said, it could cut costs for device development because fewer patches will be needed.
It may also improve patient safety, he said. For a patient with an open wound under a wearable, fewer changes means lower risk of contamination.
A recent study from Deloitte found that 49% of U.S. health care consumers use wearables, digital assistants or smart devices to track health and fitness.
"About one-third of consumers said they use a wearable device to monitor health issues — for example, blood sugar, blood pressure, breathing function, mood," wrote Glenn Snyder, Deloitte's global med tech practice leader, in a November blog post.
In July, 3M announced plans to spinoff its $8.6 billion health care business into a separate public company. It expects to complete the separation by the end of this year. The company has not shared new details or an updated timeline since announcing the plan.