masking tape

masking tape
Richard Drew
3M Company
  • Product Design

Richard Drew, born in St. Paul, Minnesota and educated at the University of Minnesota, was a lab technician at 3M who invented both masking tape and transparent cellophane tape. While delivering a batch of sample sandpaper (wet-dry sandpaper was also invented by 3M) to a local auto repair shop, he noticed that the workers had difficulty removing the butcher paper applied to the car body to mask off areas for the era’s popular two-tone paint color schemes. Too strong, the tape peeled the paint finish off requiring additional labor and expense to fix. Drew created a tape of cabinetmaker’s glue and crepe paper. His first attempt had only a thin line of adhesive along the edges of the tape’s two-inch width and failed to stick properly. An irate worker told Drew to “Take this tape back to those Scotch bosses [of yours],” in that era a derogatory term for the parsimonious, one which was, however, embraced in the Scotch brand of 3M tapes.