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    Meet the man behind the mask

    March 16, 2016
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    Meet the man behind the mask

    When he's developing a new respirator John Bryant takes his work home with him, wearing the prototype to go running and cycling and even to knock down walls.

    Meet the man behind the mask

    When he's developing a new respirator John Bryant takes his work home with him, wearing the prototype to go running and cycling and even to knock down walls.

    Meet the man behind the mask

    When he's developing a new respirator John Bryant takes his work home with him, wearing the prototype to go running and cycling and even to knock down walls.

    • John Bryant

      3M scientist John loves applying knowledge, science and experience to creating a product that people actually want to wear and says that the best way to do this is to test it in real life conditions, such as in a hot and sweaty gym or doing a spot of DIY.

      He said: "This is the best way to get inspiration for new designs that are comfortable to wear and give the best protection against hazardous particles. Developing any new product needs a mixture of scientific insight, learning from techniques used in other industries, common sense and trial and error. It also needs curiosity on the part of the scientist.

      "One of the great things about working for 3M is that as technical employees we can spend 15 per cent of our time exploring and 'playing' with techniques and ideas that interest us and this leads to some of our best inventions."

      As part of the respirator development team based in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, John applies the science of air flow and heat transmission to developing the next generation of respirators.

      "He said: "As well as designing new products for the European market, such as a respirator for cyclists to protect against pollution, I have worked on a number of joint projects with our US team. These included developing a cool flow valve to help regulate temperature flow inside a respirator. The aesthetic design of this valve was in part inspired by the front grill of a 1959 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray."

      John says that the main barrier to workers wearing respirators for protection against contaminants is comfort and so 3M constantly re-invents its own technologies to improve on comfort and fit to help create safe working environments.

      Said John: "Disposable cup shaped respirators were originally launched by 3M around 50 years ago, followed by a two-panel respirator. We launched the first three-panel design in 1997 based on detailed research to understand how to convert a 2D shape when carried into a 3D shape when worn. This involved us investigating a number of related techniques, including origami.

      "To find the best solution for wearing a product against the skin, we also researched patents going back 200 years for everything from respirators, nappies and boxing gloves to see how they were designed and made.

      "As well as testing a new design in the lab, we ask customers to try them out in the field and give us their feedback. Then we optimise and test again until we have a final product that gives the most natural feel."

      Added John: "Knowing that our products protect people working across a range of industries gives me great pride and satisfaction."

      Find out more about Safety Markets at 3M