Adhesives Products & Manufacturing


Adhesives: The Tape Story

Pressure-sensitive tapes are coated adhesives applied to a flexible backing. The company utilized its expertise in coatings and backings to create the first 3M products that shifted away from sandpapers and abrasives. 

Masking Tape

Masking tape was developed in 1925 to meet a need in the automobile industry to aid in painting car finishes. The product was first marketed in 1927 under the brand name of “Scotch.” 

Electrical Tape

Electrical tape was first introduced in 1929. This adhesive product led to the development and introduction of a wide variety of other electrical tape and repair products. 

Cellulose Tape

Cellulose tape, renamed cellophane tape in 1948, was developed as a waterproof sealing tape for cellophane packages. First marketed in 1930, it soon became popular for a wide variety of commercial, office, and household uses, especially after the tape dispenser was developed in 1937. 

Magnetic Tape

The first magnetic sound recording tape was introduced in 1947. Magnetic tapes are formed of magnetic iron oxide particles applied to a flexible plastic backing. 

Fibre Tape

Acetate fibre tapes were developed and put to use during World War II. These products led to the development of strong and durable filament tapes.


Several buildings were constructed to house the tape production and research facilities. The first work on tape was begun in Building 2, then moved to Building 14 after it was constructed in 1929. Building 20, built in 1937 and 1940, contained tape operations, as did the upper floors of Building 14, added in 1945. Buildings 22, 23, and 24 were added for tape research and manufacturing between 1941 and 1951.

Reflective Sheeting

3M reflective products were developed to make road and highway signs and pavement markings visible at night. “Scotchlite” is formed of coated glass beads on a flexible backing, held in place with adhesives. It was introduced in 1938 for local roads and soon spread to a wide variety of product applications in military and civilian use.

Ribbons and Decorations 

Research on tapes led to “Mistlon,” made from synthetic textile fibers, which was developed in 1937. It was a stronger substitute for paper. Further research led to a line of ribbons and decorating materials marketed under the names of “Lacelon” (1948), “Sasheen” (1950), and “Decorette” (1951). 


“Scotch” was adopted by 3M as a brand name for its many kinds of tape. The tartan packaging was introduced in 1945 at the end of World War II.