3M Visual Products Days According to Pete

The Machines That Made it Possible

Created: December 23, 2014
Revised; October 23, 2023

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Here, I am starting a small (and unofficial) chronicle of the Visual Products Machines produced by 3M.
It's my intent to overview some of those machines for posterity, from the view of people who dealt with them. I'm one of those people, so you will be hearing from me, for now.

3M assigned a sequential internal numerical model number for each machine. Then, the marketing department of each manufacturing division assigned a sales name (often a number-name) to it for field use.
I will begin by listing some of them:

Model     Sales-Name or Number             Description

42 ??             The first 3M Overhead Projector,
43 ??             Next Model, slightly portable.
051               3M 051 copier. I think it was mostly for making transparencies
3M 051 Copier
60                 Early, smaller, portable Overhead Projector
66                 Very popular Fixed Head Overhead Projector
98 ???           Special Version of model 45 Secretary Thermofax Machine used for making Projection Transparencies
88 ???           DuckBill Portable, Foldable Overhead Projector with only convection cooling
Pages 10 & 11 of this 3M document provide a nice Visaul Products History

As far as I know, this 3M Division is still alive and well.

Tattoo artists and Screen printers

From time to time I am asked where to get Thermofax machines these days and I don't have a very good answer.
These folks often use specialized thermofax-type films to produce stencils that transfer to the tattoo patient's skin and polyester mesh screens to make screen printing masters.
Of course, they need a Thermofax machine to copy their original art onto the film materials.

If you, the reader, are into such things, you have probably already noticed that new, refurbished and used Thermofax machines come up on Ebay, etc. from time to time.

Now for the history lesson part:
At one point, the Visual Products division took over a few of the Duplicating (or Copy) Products division's Thermofax line for making overhead projection transparencies,
for producing "spirit masters" and a few other specialized uses. They did some redesign of the machines too. I vaguely remember an 8700 series and maybe a 4000
series, in addition to the "98" mentioned above.

If you'd like to contribute an article about any one of these machines, please use the contact link at the top of this page to let me know.