Public Release: 

Scotch Tape awarded National Historic Chemical Landmark designation

American Chemical Society

Judith L. Benham, Ph.D.,* chair of the Board of Directors of the American Chemical Society, will present a commemorative bronze plaque at the ceremony to Fred J. Palensky, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Research and Development and Chief Technology Officer of 3M. The American Chemical Society, the world largest scientific society, sponsors the Landmarks program.

Benham said the development of Scotch tape "is a wonderful example of why the American Chemical Society began the National Historic Chemical Landmarks program: to demonstrate that chemistry underpins so much of what is common and useful in the modern world."

Invented in 1930 by Richard G. Drew, a 3M engineer, Scotch transparent tape has been used for everything from wrapping gifts to protecting blimps. But for a time in its early development, the very idea of transparent tape seemed ludicrous as each day stacks of spoiled tape piled up several feet high on the floor of Drew's laboratory. The cellophane backing curled near heat and split as it was being coated by machine. It often tore or broke before a full roll was coated with adhesive. Gradually, Drew overcame these difficulties and developed a process for producing pressure-sensitive tape - involving more than 30 raw materials including alcohols, acids, cellulose acetate and hydrocarbon solvents - that is used to this day.

Today, 3M makes more than 900 varieties of Scotch brand tapes. Each year, 3M sells enough Scotch tape to circle the Earth 165 times. It's estimated that transparent tapes are used in more than 90 percent of American homes.

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The American Chemical Society -- the world's largest scientific society -- is a non-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

* A retired 3M employee

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