Packaging Tape, From Then Until Now

I’ve talked a lot about how cardboard was made, and therefore we have all sorts of different kinds of cardboard boxes. I’ve talked about how polypropylene was made and therefore we have all sorts of plastic bags. I’ve never really talked about how packaging tape was made. Oh sure, I’ve talked about all the different varieties, and how it’s actually a really interesting subject and you somehow never run out of anything to say about it. But I’ve never actually started at the beginning! What a shame. Well, all that is about to change. Get settled in, we are going to a ride down packaging tape memory lane…

There was once an American, and it’s a great thing that he was. American, that is. I feel that so many of the great inventors were American, at least in the modern day and age. The Wright brothers, with the airplane. Alexander Graham Bell, with the telephone. Thomas Edison, with about a hundred different inventions, but the light bulb most significantly. All Americans. And right up there with them was a guy from Minnesota, who invented tape. He was working for a company that manufactured sandpaper, in the 1920s, and with the mind of a true inventor he got the idea to make tape from an autobody shop where they were testing some of the sandpaper.

He came to be aware that it was incredibly difficult for the mechanics to make straight lines when doing the two-tone paint jobs. Why he was the only one that thought of a solution I cannot comprehend, but I suppose that is the mindset which comes with already having everything invented and at my fingertips in vast quantities and for fairly cheap. Anyway, he began by using a strip of paper with adhesive on the edges, and the idea of masking tape was born. Of course it was perfected over time, and ten years later he added Scotch tape to the mix. This was just in time for the Great Depression, because people began using tape to repair things instead of buying a new replacement.

There is a whole different story when it comes to duct tape, but that one will have to be told at another time. Hopefully you come back to check it out some time. In the meantime, you can fill all your packaging tape needs at