facts about the invention
Drew in 1930.
|The development of the
first masking tape in the early 1920s showed just how gifted Dick Drew was in devising
practical solutions to customer needs.
But Drew was not one to rest on his laurels or to neglect the
ever-changing concerns of 3M customers. Naturally, then, Drew went straight to work when
he learned that a St. Paul insulation firm needed 3M's help in devising a waterproof
covering for the insulation batts that it was designing for railroad refrigerator cars.
was pursuing his research, he spoke with a fellow 3M researcher who was considering
packaging 3M masking tape rolls in cellophane, a new moisture-proof wrap created by
DuPont. Why, Drew wondered, couldn't cellophane be coated with adhesive and used as a
sealing tape for the insulation batts?
In June 1929, Drew ordered 100 yards of cellophane with which to
conduct experiments. He soon devised a tape product sample that he showed to the St. Paul
insulation firm. Unfortunately, the sample didn't adequately solve that particular
customer's problem. But the sample definitely showed promise as an aid to packaging other
types of products.
Drew kept working. It took over a year for
him to solve the many problems posed by his materials. Cellophane could indeed work as a
backing for pressure-sensitive tape. But it was difficult to apply adhesive evenly upon
it. Also, cellophane split easily in the process of machine coating. But for each such
challenge, Drew found an answer. He discovered that if a primer coat was applied to
cellophane, the adhesive would coat evenly. As for splitting, special machinery solved
that problem. Finally, Drew developed virtually colorless adhesives to improve the
aesthetics of the tape.
On Sept. 8, 1930, the first roll of
Scotch Cellophane Tape was sent to a prospective customer. That customer wrote back
with the following sound advice for 3M: "You should have no hesitancy in equipping
yourself to put this product on the market economically. There will be a sufficient volume
of sales to justify the expenditure."
The customer's word proved to be a
considerable understatement. Scotch cellophane tapes went on to become one of the most
famous and widely used products in 3M history. Commercial enterprises used it for
packaging. Farmers found it handy for patching cracked turkey eggs. Homeowners used it to
repair toys and torn book pages. New uses continue to be discovered and product
sales continue to grow up to the present day.
Masking Tape from The
Great Idea Finder
History of Office
Equipment from The Great Idea
Century of Innovation at 3M
from The Great Idea Finder
ON THE BOOKSHELF:
Happen: 50 Inventions Discovered by Mistake
Cellophaneby Charlotte Foltz Jones, John O'Brien (Illustra.) / Hardcover - 86
pages (1996) / Delacorte
Fifty inventions discovered by mistake receive entertaining cartoon embellishment but are
actually serious subjects which will delight and entertain kids.
Kid Who Invented the Popsicle: And Other Surprising Stories About Inventions
by Don L. Wulffson / Paperback - 128 pages (1999) / Puffin
Brief factual stories about how various familiar things were invented, many by accident,
from animal crackers to the zipper.
ON THE WEB:
Milestones in the evolution of Scotch brand tape.
Scotch Tape Timeline
The first Scotch® Masking Tape was invented in 1925 to
help auto manufacturers solve a problem.
Invention Dimension - Inventor of the Week
Richard Drew(1886-1956) deatured for his invention of
transparent adhesive tape.
For an overview of 3M's history, including more tales of the tape, visit their Innovation
Becoming the Clear Leader
In 1930, Drew conceived the product that would bring 3M worldwide
fame—transparent tape. Like masking tape, this invention was inspired by
customer need. National Engineering Week article.
DID YOU KNOW?;
based in St. Paul, Minnesota, makes hundreds of industrial, consumer
and packaging tapes. But the best-known and most widely used is our
No. 810 tape, better known as Scotch® Magic™ tape. Today's tape is a
far cry from the early versions of Scotch® Transparent Tape.
- Dick Drew, saw cellophane tape as coming
with an ongoing sequence of 3M innovative efforts. "Would there have been any masking
or cellophane tape if it hadn't been for earlier 3M research on adhesive binders for
3M Wetordry Abrasive Paper?" he once wondered. "Probably not."
or registered trademarks of 3M. All rights reserved.
Sources in BOLD Type
page revised March, 20005.
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