Scotch tape is one of America’s favorite office supplies. The adhesive, manufactured by 3M, is used for everything from gift wrapping and envelope sealing to repairs of torn or damaged paperwork. 3M carries more than 400 varieties, and it’s still one of their top-selling products. Everyone knows and loves Scotch tape, but how did it come to be? The story is more interesting than you might imagine.
In 1923, engineer Richard Drew joined 3M. During that period, 3M only manufactured sandpaper. Drew was tasked with testing the company’s newest product — Wettodry brand sandpaper. To conduct his experiments, Drew visited a local autobody shop. During his visit, he noticed that the painters had a rough time creating clear dividing lines on two-color paint jobs.
Drew thought he could make the process easier with a simple, disposable adhesive. By taping down pieces of paper, Drew theorized that painting would become more accurate and efficient.
Drew started by developing a masking tape prototype, but it wasn’t sticky enough to hold the pieces of paper in place. One of the auto detailers got frustrated with the experiment, telling Drew to “take this tape back to those Scotch bosses of yours and tell them to put more adhesive on it!” The reprimand stuck with Drew, and he decided to name his new product “Scotch” tape.
After developing a satisfactory prototype, Drew put it to the test. He first sent the Scotch tape to a Chicago-based company that specialized in package printing. They loved the invention and encouraged him to bring it to market. With real-world support and a final seal of approval from the higher-ups at 3M, Scotch tape entered production. By 1930, it was making its way to store shelves all across the country.
Pretty interesting, don’t you think? To learn more about Scotch tape, click here.