Arguably, one of the best inventions we have in our modern world is tape. Tape can be used on all kinds of projects, from small to large. You’ll find tape for just about every purpose, and in all kinds of industries. And the painting industry is no acceptation.
Tape was actually developed by a company called the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing company, or 3M as it is known today. It was founded in 1902 and originated as one of the best sandpaper developers in the world.
In the 1920’s, an engineering student, Richard Drew applied for a job with 3M. They hired him and send him out as a salesman taking trial samples of 3M products to auto shops, which used the sandpapers for preparing cars for painting. While out on delivery, he noticed a problem.
In the 1920’s, two toned paint jobs were common. But auto painters struggled to seal off areas for the two toned painting process. The tape they used either didn’t seal effectively, or stuck so tightly it ruined the finish underneath. After seeing the problem, Drew knew he could do better.
After approval from his supervisors, he spent time in the lab working to find a tape that will solve the problem. The story says that Drew experimented with tape with minimum adhesive to avoid oversticking. While ineffective, many painters that tried out the product were known to say “Why so Scotch with the adhesive?” The story and the name stuck. And once Drew had created the perfect tape to solve the problem, Scotch tape had its place on the market.
Even though masking tape was developed at the start of the Depression, it quickly grew into one of the most indispensable products of the average household. This form of tape could be used to mend virtually anything in the home and extend its life. When Scotch tape expanded to include the clear Scotch cellulose tape as well, both became household standards.
While masking tape revolutionized the painting industry, by the 1980’s painters knew there was still a problem with it. Depending on the surface, masking tape could still leave marks. 3M went back to the drawing board, and in 1988 invented a product now known as ScotchBlue Painters Tape. This product revolutionized the masking tape industry, as the first tape that resists UV light and allows for longer masking times.
By the twenty-first century, 3M produced 5.5 million miles of tape every year. Yes, that’s a lot of tape. Imagine what the world would be like without this one of a kind invention.
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