The Origin Of Gaffers Tape Is A Complicated Story
Gaffers Tape was developed during World War II, by Johnson & Johnson, a major manufacturer of medical supplies. In 1942 the US military turned to J&J to solve the problem of sealing ammunition boxes in order to keep out moisture and contaminants.
The Permacel division of Johnson & Johnson came up with a product that used a natural rubber adhesive laminated to a cotton cloth to create a tape that was strong, waterproof, and could be cut without a tool. The original product used a light weight cotton-like cloth known as “duck”, and this may well have been the origin of the term “duck tape”.
After the war, Permacel was spun off from Johnson & Johnson and became a leading developer of high quality industrial adhesives and tapes. They continued the development of gaffers tape, creating a product that was primarily used in the film and audio visual production industries. Continued refinement of the product led to tape in many colors as well as tape intended for extreme temperature environments.
There has been continued consolidation in the global adhesives industry, and Permacel was bought by a Japanese company, Nitto Denko.
Recently, the Permacel division of Nitto Denko was acquired by Shurtape Technologies, a North Carolina-based company that makes many industrial and consumer tape products. This acquisition was announced in September, 2004.
Distribution of Shurtape products intended for the arts and entertainment industries is handled by Pro Tapes and Specialties, based in Edison, NJ.