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Moving equipment: Adhesive tape

Adhesive tape is essential to a good move, but it can be used for so much more.

Adhesive tape is essential to a good move, but it can be used for so much more.

When it comes to packing supplies, nothing sticks to our hearts quite like tape. America's infatuation with the sticky strips of plastic began in the 1920s and has ballooned into a full-blown love affair.

Richard Drew, an engineer with 3M in the early '20s, invented adhesive tape by coating a sheet of cellophane paper with a sticky material. He eventually hit upon the design for masking tape, which he designed to help automotive detailers paint cars. The first batch of masking tape only had adhesive on the far edges of the strips and fell off the cars.

As the legend goes, one of the mechanics told Drew to, "Take this tape back to your Scotch bosses and tell them to put more adhesive on it," indicating he felt the company was being cheap and stingy by not making the whole strip sticky. The name... ::ahem::... stuck, and Scotch Tape has been the brand of choice for generations.

Packing tape is classified as a pressure-sensitive adhesive, meaning that, unlike other adhesives that are activated by heat or moisture, packing tape sticks to whatever it is pressed against. There is a wide variety of different types of tape people use when boxing up their belongings for the moving company to take. The most common is a clear 2-inch cellophane tape, but some movers have been known to use duct tape to get the job done.

Duct tape, interestingly, is seldom used on ducts. In fact, according to PracticalManliness.com - the website for practical men - it is illegal in most states to use duct tape on ducts. The heavy-duty cloth tape was originally used during World War II to keep moisture out of ammunition cases, but once G.I.s figured out how useful it was, they began using it for a variety of reasons.

While most people use tape to hold things together, others have turned it into an art form. In 2010, installation artists from Numen/For Use used 700 rolls of everyday packing tape to create a massive, interactive cocoon at DMY Berlin. Visitors to the exhibition were able to crawl inside the web-like tangle of tape and explore its transparent caverns and tunnels.

Duct tape has inspired similar unlikely uses. The popular television show Mythbusters has explored a variety of uses for the sticky stuff, including lifting a car, making a cannon and creating fashionable headwear.