Friday, November 7, 2008

Richard Drew

It's often said that in a non-capitalist world, we'd all be equal: equally miserable. Without the invention of today's hero, most people would be equally useless at wrapping Christmas presents. Richard Drew (1899-1980) was a 3M lab worker who, in 1925, invented pressure sensitive adhesive tape.

Drew was looking for a solution to a problem faced by car detailers in the 1920's: the two-toned finishes that were popular then suffered from the two paints running together. The first tape Drew invented was a masking tape that protected edges during painting. His invention was said to have raised early skepticism after a failed initial trial, in which an auto painter referred to the bosses at 3M as "Scotch" (i.e. cheap) for not including enough adhesive. The kinks were shortly worked out, and the rest is history.

Transparent cellulosic tape, another Drew invention, shortly followed masking tape. In the Great Depression, tape was seen as a low-cost preservative of belongings when replacements were not affordable. Building upon its success with tape, 3M went from sandpaper manufacturer to technology-driven conglomerate. Today there are hundreds of varieties of pressure sensitive adhesive tapes, and few more popular than Drew's originals.

Adhesives & Sealants Industry Magazine

"Tale of the Tape" - 3M.com

Wikipedia entry on Richard Drew

1 comment:

Tenure said...

As a dap-hander, the kind of person whose solution to anything usually involves taping two or more things together, I salute this man as a real hero of capitalism.

I love this man. :D