Scotch® Tape: An Innovation That Stuck
Scotch® Transparent Tape takes hold in 1930, when 3M sent its first roll of cellophane tape to a prospective client.
It’s been used for everything from wrapping gifts to protecting blimps. It is so commonplace (try to find a home, school or office without it) that it is easy to take for granted. Yet Scotch® Transparent Tape is an astounding product with an extraordinary history marked with audacity, serendipity, and “stick-to-itiveness.”
For a time in its early development, the very idea of transparent tape seemed ludicrous as each day stacks of spoiled cellophane piled up several feet high on a laboratory floor. Yet driven by what was to become a corporate credo –”Thou shalt not kill a new product idea” – Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M) engineers persisted and ultimately triumphed, creating what was to become one of the most ubiquitous and successful products ever developed.
Today, 3M makes more than 900 varieties of Scotch Brand tapes. Each year, 3M sells enough Scotch tape to circle the Earth 165 times. But producing the first roll wasn’t just a challenge, it was something of a marvel considering that it was the brainchild of a banjo-playing, engineering school dropout who had a limited background in chemistry and who had no idea what he was getting into when he told a client he could solve his problem.
The problem facing Richard G. Drew, a 23-year-old 3M research assistant, was a big one. And his ingenious solution – masking tape – would revolutionize 3M and set the stage for eventual development of Scotch Transparent Tape.
Visit National Historic Chemical Landmarks to read more about Scotch® Tape.
Excerpted with permission, National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program