Drew (see, photo) worked as a researcher in Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company. (Now known as 3M after initial letters of the first three words) He got considerable experience of working with adhesive materials as this company started manufacturing sandpaper using silica and aluminum oxide or crystal particles since 1926. The contribution of Richard Drew in the invention of sandpaper was also noteworthy. Around this period two-tone motor cars were becoming popular in America. However, difficulty was experienced in the automobile plants at the time of removing the masking tape used for demarcating paints of different colors applied on the upper and lower parts of the motor cars. This masking tape had to be scrapped in order to remove it and scrapping affected tonal quality of the paint. Drew and his team devised a new masking tape of brown paper which could be peeled of without leaving adhesive substance behind.
In 1928 Richard Drew made an invention which had much greater commercial potential. Transparent cellophane paper for packaging various products had been introduced in the market about four years ago. It was not only transparent and thin (only 0.03 millimeters thick) but was also moisture and heat resistant as well as stronger than ordinary wrapping paper. While the demand for cellophane paper – made from cellulose – was growing rapidly, there was no appropriate adhesive substance for effectively sealing it. Ordinary brown paper gum tape was extensively used in those days but it had drawbacks such as it required wetting with water before use. Moreover, in damp weather rolled up gum tape would stick on the tape beneath. Drew overcame both these problems by using cellophane paper as the base of his adhesive strip. He patented his invention in 1928. A few years later under commercial arrangement with Drew, 3M Company launched this newly invented adhesive tape in the market on September 8, 1930 under the brand name Sellotape.
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