Cellophane Tape Day is celebrated on May 27th, dedicated to one of the most revolutionary inventions of the last century: Scotch. Here is the short story of how duct tape is born and who are the men to whom we owe a piece of our daily life.
A brief history of duct tape
Although there may be understandable discrepancies on the date, Cellophane Tape Day is celebrated on May 27 in some countries of the world . Exactly: the Day of the adhesive tape , born to celebrate the eighty-sixth anniversary of one of the most revolutionary inventions of the modern era.
Solvents, materials, thicknesses change, but one thing remains unchanged: the need for our daily life to join components quickly and easily. A possibility that, in fact, the adhesive tape continues to allow, and which earns it the status of a centuries-old invention, a milestone in engineering, like objects such as, for example, the expansion plug .
But how is adhesive tape born? And who are the men and companies to whom we owe this invention?
It was May 1930, Richard G. “Dick” Drew was almost 31 years old (he would have turned one month later) and after almost 5 years from the invention, his adhesive cellophane was finally marketed by 3M under the name of Scotch, the origin of whose name is lost in the anecdotal of several legends.
The cellophane adhesive tape, in fact, is owed a little by chance and a little by intuition. Dick Drew, a former banjo player, had already worked for several years for the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, the 3M, then a manufacturer of abrasive paper (in particular an abrasive paper that also worked on wet materials to avoid the raising of dust. residual). With the now inexorable development of automotive production, 3M paper was right for car bodies.
During a sandpaper sample test in one of these workshops, Drew noticed the painstaking effort of the painters to prepare the so-called masks on the parts to be painted on the two-tone cars, which slowly made their way through the all black Fords.
Masks needed to be created and applied more quickly. Something was needed that adhered well to the metal, that was easy to remove and above all that did not stick to itself. What he was about to invent would forever change the world. Taking advantage of the popularity of the use of cellophane (the transparent cellulose- based material ) Drew thought of obtaining a tape to which he could apply a glue mixture, on one side only.
The first tests were not very convincing, also because the quantity of the adhesive was never enough, having to be spread easily on the cellophane which often folded and curled during the drafting. A shop attendant jokingly ordered Drew to intercede with his parents at 3M so that they were less “Scottish” (“your scotch bosses” were the exact words), that is, less stingy with quantities. In fact, thanks to a new formula for the glue , which made it more spreadable, the quantity of adhesive doubled and above all the tape held up, applied even with a little pressure from the hands.
Not only that, the uses were practically infinite at that point, so much so as to supplant the initial target: in any activity to keep two parts glued together, whether they were paper, metal or fabric, was an increasingly certain speed of resolution.
Thus, as a tribute to 3M’s “Scottish” executives, Scotch Cellulose Tape was born , which despite the changes in the intended use for which it was designed and the dramatic period of the Great Depression, was a sales success .
The success that allowed an inexhaustible desire for research that led (among other things) to another pillar of the most significant modern inventions (as well as another of the products on which 3M has built its global leadership in the sector over the years): the Post-It. But this, we know, is another story (and for the record, someone celebrates Post It day on August 14th…).
The history of adhesive tape is only at the beginning and even if there are some discrepancies on the date and in some states the ” Cellophane Tape Day” is celebrated on May 27 , that is: the “Day of the adhesive tape”, the official date of birth of the duct tape is January 31, 1930.