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Sticky Tapes

Sellotape and Scotch Tape are brand names of pressure-sensitive adhesive tape. Both brand names are now used generically to refer to sticky tape. Sellotape and Scotch are thus genericised trademarks.

Sticky tape consists of a backing material like cellophane or paper coated with pressure sensitive adhesive. Sellotape and Scotch Tape stick to surfaces as pressure is applied and do not require water (as gummed tapes) or heat. The most common office sticky tape is clear with adhesive on one side, but duct, masking, heavy-duty and double-sided varieties are also widely available.

Types of sticky tape

  • Office tape is clear film with an acrylic or synthetic rubber-based adhesive. Uses include repairing torn paper, sealing envelopes and affixing notices to walls and notice boards.
  • Double-sided tape is backed on both sides by adhesives and so can be used to adjoin two sheets of paper together.
  • Duct tape is a multi-purpose, waterproof, heavy-duty tape which sticks to almost any surface including concrete, metal and wood. The etymological origin of ‘duct tape’ is contested and often ‘duct tape’ and ‘duck tape’ are used interchangeably.
  • Masking tape is adhesive-back crepe paper used to cover and protect areas whilst painting.

Did you know?

  • The first pressure sensitive tape was developed in 1845 by a surgeon, Dr. Horace Day.
  • ‘Sellotape’ was coined in 1937 by makers Colin Kininmonth and George Gray after the cellophane film which they backed with rubber resin.
  • Duct tape emerged in 1942 during World War Two and was used as water-resistant sealing tape for ammunition cases.
  • A kilt-wearing cartoon boy called Scotty MacTape was Scotch’s mascot for two decades from 1944.
  • Masking tape was invented in 1925 by a 3M employee called Richard Drew.

Sticky tape glossary

  • Easy tear. Easy rip off without scissors or teeth!
  • Golden tape. Signature Sellotape colour but clear after application.
  • Present wrapping. Tape strips usually from a dispenser allowing hands to be free to wrap present. 
  • Removable. Can be removed cleanly once applied and repositioned again and again. 
  • Matt finish. Invisible tape when applied that can be written on but does not ghost when photocopied
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