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Category: News
Volume: 19
Issue: 2
Article No.: 1267

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Back To Article Directory - Mar/Apr-98

In 1921, the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, known as 3M, appointed a new lab assistant who had been playing the banjo to finance his way through a correspondence course in engineering. In spite of his limited credentials, Richard Drew was to prove indispensable. At 25 he invented masking tape in response to complaints by car-body shop workers that there was no satisfactory method of temporarily masking the cars in order to achieve the then fashionable two-tone paint effect. Marketed as Scotch Tape, this was the first in 3M's line of famous Scotch Brand Adhesive products. But it was in 1930, that he hit on his most lucrative idea - a waterproof adhesive tape. As a waterproof backing material Drew selected the newly launched cellophane. At first, the sealing of food in cellophane was thought to be the key market, but the success of the cellophane tape was ultimately based on the huge number of different applications found by the general public, from mending household items, to removing fluff from clothing. By the 1960s 3M had ironed out the tape's irritating deficiencies, such as its tendency to turn yellow and to ooze adhesive with age. A dispenser incorporating a serrated knife and a metal strip to hold the end of the tape, was also invented to make the tape easier to handle. Consumers have continued to stick with the Scotch Brand. Today it's the world's number one selling tape.

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