3M rolls out skin-sticking adhesive allowing wearable monitors to last up to 4 weeks

3M has developed a new medical product with major staying power.

The newest addition to the company’s line of adhesives is designed to stay in place for up to 28 days, 3M announced this week, doubling the two-week wear time that has long been the standard for stick-on medical devices. The manufacturing giant first began subverting that standard last spring, when it unveiled an adhesive tape that could be used for up to 21 days at a time.

According to its maker, the four-week adhesive, sold as 3M Medical Tape 4578, is pressure sensitive and designed to maintain its stickiness for up to one year in storage, even without a protective liner.

The polyester fabric tape was developed with an eye toward the makers of health monitors, sensors and other medical wearables that are meant to track a wearer’s health for long periods of time.

For example, the adhesive sensors used in continuous glucose monitoring systems like Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre 3 and Dexcom’s newly cleared G7 are currently changed out every 10 to 14 days. BioIntelliSense’s vital sign trackers, meanwhile, are indicated to monitor health for up to three months—but the adhesive has to be replaced every week.

Swapping in a longer-wear material like 3M’s 4578 tape on those devices, then, could both make the remote monitoring process easier and less hands-on for patients and ensure there are fewer interruptions throughout the tracking period. And, by cutting down on the number of moving parts, it may also reduce the costs of using those devices.

3M offers medtech makers an online “Find My Adhesive” tool to match their devices with the most appropriate backing materials based on the devices’ functions and intended end users.

The new product launch comes ahead of the separation of 3M’s healthcare technology business into a free-standing entity.

Under the terms of a plan announced last summer, the resulting public company will comprise 3M’s entire healthcare portfolio, which currently spans wound care, oral care, healthcare IT and biopharma filtration products. That’ll leave behind the Minnesota-based conglomerate’s safety and industrial, transportation and electronics, and consumer products segments—since the food safety business is already in the process of its own spinout—to continue on as what has been dubbed “New 3M” amid the change-up.

According to a full-year financial report (PDF) published at the end of January, the healthcare segment brought in more than $8.4 billion in net sales. Though that represented a 2% drop from 2021’s sales total, the healthcare segment still clocked more than 3% growth in its organic sales for the year, well above 3M’s other businesses, which registered between -1% and 1% year-over-year changes in their organic sales.

The spinoff plan is on track for completion by the end of this year.