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A Brief History of Adhesive Tapes

A Brief History of Adhesive Tapes

Adhesive tapes have been around for a long time, and they are available under a variety of names – PSA tapes, pressure sensitive tapes, sticky tapes or self-stick tape to mention just a few.  The tape designs feature a pressure sensitive coating on the back of a material which varies depending on the intended application, but usually feature plastic films, metal foils or paper. Some of the tapes feature a removal release liner used to protect the tape before application, and which must be removed before the tape can be used, while others don’t have these liners and are normally applied directly to the surface. Also, some of the tapes are constructed with different layers depending on the tape’s intended applications.

A Brief History of Adhesive Tapes

The history of adhesive tape dates back to thousands of years ago when ancient Egyptian workers would use natural viscous substances like resin and beeswax to glue materials together. Other than the use of such primitive adhesives by the Egyptians, there is also enough evidence to suggest that earthenware pots used to be mended by adhesive substances obtained from tree sap as early as 4000 BC. Detailed scripts of adhesives, however, date back to 2000 BC where there is evidence of detailed instructions on how the adhesives were made using fish glue.

During the period between 1500 – 1000 BC, it is suggested that Egyptian hieroglyphics used glue obtained from animal adhesives for laminating and bonding items. It is also believed that the Greeks and the Romans had their own versions of adhesives, which they made from different and varying materials, including animal hides, milk, egg whites, vegetables, blood and bone matter. Between 618 BC and 906 BC, the Chinese also started using their own versions of adhesives and these mainly featured derivatives from stag horns, ox and fish materials.

However, it was not until 1750 before the very first patent of an adhesive material was granted in Britain. This was a fish-based glue and it acted as the genesis of the commercial production of glues, as well as further insights and developments into the adhesive industry.

Though the initial way for sticking things together was developed by the Egyptians, Chinese, Romans, and Greeks, there were serious drawbacks that hindered their widespread use and adoption. These original formulations were messy, and dried into a hard finish that wasn’t appealing to the eyes, and their range of applications was also limited.

About the Invention of Adhesive Tapes – High Pressure Adhesive Tapes

The history of adhesive tapes can be traced back to 1845 when Dr. Horace Day came up with the very first invention of “Surgical Tapes”, which were in the form of a rubber attached to strips of fabrics. Though the surgical strip worked for some time and it was a strong basis for the future development of tapes, it still had its limitations such as falling off now and then. To improve on the invention, Johnson and Johnson came up with the Band-Aid. They simply attached a piece of gauze to a cloth-backed tape and then covered the whole thing using crinoline.

In 1923, while working at 3M in Minnesota, Richard Drew noticed that auto painters were struggling with cleaning dividing lines on two-color auto paint jobs while he product tested the company’s Wet/Dry sandpaper brands. To help the auto painters avoid the struggle when it came to cleaning the dividing lines after the paint jobs, Richard decided to invest into the world’s very first as a solution to the painter’s struggle. However, the brand of the invented tape frustrated the body shop painters because it had very little glue on it. It was then agreed that more adhesive would be added to the and this is believed to be one of the origins of the tape’s name – adhesive tapes.

During the Second World War in 1942, Johnson and Johnson developed duct tape as a waterproof solution that could be used for sealing repair equipment and ammo boxes in the field. In finding this solution, a cloth tape was coated with polyethylene, and this is how duct tape came into life. Over the years, the evolution of the tape continued, and apart from military applications, the tapes started to become relevant in several other industries, with the biggest consumers beings the automotive industry, building and construction industries, shipping and packaging industries, the aviation industry, and the electronics repair industry among others.

Presently, you will find adhesive tapes available in all sizes and shapes. There is practically a specific kind of adhesive tape for just about any application you can conceive. Whether you are looking for waterproof tape, high temperature tapes or custom packaging tape for shipping, you are guaranteed to find a custom tape specifically made for that application.

What makes Adhesive Tape so Good?

The greatest element that makes these tapes stand out is the kind of adhesive used. The adhesive varies depending on the tape’s intended use, but they share similar attributes such as tackiness, having strong adherence to surfaces, and also having a strong ability to resist stress. Some of the adhesives used in the manufacture of the tape include:

Resin/Rubber – this is one of the oldest types of adhesives used in the manufacture of these tapes. It comes with a plethora of advantages, such as being relatively affordable, adheres well to different kinds of surfaces, is versatile under varying temperature conditions, and has low shrinkage during the curing process.

Synthetic rubber – synthetic rubber can always be used in the place of natural rubber in the manufacture of adhesive tapes. They have great shear resistance and higher adhesion compared to natural rubber, and this makes it the preferred choice for making sealing tapes that will be used in sealing cartons and other forms of packaging.

Acrylic Adhesive – acrylic is stable, colorless, and is not affected by exposure to UV light. However, it is more expensive than rubber or resin, needs lots of time to cure, and it doesn’t have great results when it adheres to harder surfaces.

Hopefully, you have a basic understanding of the history and evolution of tape. Though adhesive tapes are available in a variety of types, it is important to match the job to the tape if you want great results.

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