Skip to Primary Navigation Skip to Site Navigation Skip to Main Content All Site Map


History of 3M™ Medical Tapes: Our First 50 Years

The back story: The earliest medical tapes were far from ideal. Existing tapes blocked perspiration, irritated the skin, and were painful to remove. Clinicians were looking for a non-irritating, breathable tape for long-term medical tape users.

In response to this need, a team of 3M scientists began their quest for a better medical tape. Among them was Frank Copeland, a 3M research scientist with a vested interest. "After knee surgery, there were days when the tape caused me more pain than the surgery itself," says Copeland. After three years, multiple experiments, trials, disappointments, and over 300 different variations and combinations of adhesives and backing, they land on the ideal formulation.

All that's missing is your story.

Please share your tape stories with us

The early 3M surgical tapes carried the Scotch brand name.


3M launches Scotch™ Brand Surgical Tape 530, a paper tape soon renamed 3M™ Micropore™ Surgical Tape, the industry's first breathable, hypoallergenic tape with both strong adhesion and gentle-to-skin properties. The introduction of Micropore Tape marks another major milestone for 3M and the health care industry—the birth of a brand-new product category: gentle-to-skin medical tape.

The United States launches the first weather satellite, TIROS-1.

3M™ Steri-Strip Adhesive Skin Closures


Surgeons report they are cutting and sterilizing pieces of 3M™ Micropore™ Surgical Tape to use in the operating room. 3M introduces 3M™ Steri-Strip™ Skin Closures, which are quickly embraced in the operating rooms.

The Beatles do their first recording session and TV appearance.

3M™ Transpore™ Medical Tapes


Current plastic tapes don't breathe well or tear easily, and their rubber-based adhesives often trigger serious skin reactions. 3M launches 3M™ Transpore™ Surgical Tape, a hypoallergenic, transparent, plastic tape with strong holding power—a giant step in tape adhesive technology.

Man lands on the moon—a giant step for mankind.

3M™ Durapore™ Medical Tapes


Surgeons clamor for a medical tape with great sticking power. 3M launches 3M™ Durapore™ Surgical Tape, a silk-like tape to firmly secure tubing, finger splints and dressings.

Atari kicks off the first generation of video games with the release of PONG—another technology with sticking power.

3M™ Microfoam™ Medical Tapes


Orthopedic surgeons aren't satisfied with the existing elastic tapes used for compression purposes after joint replacement. 3M develops 3M™ Microfoam™ Surgical Tape, a soft foam medical tape with multi-directional stretch designed to reduce edema.

The Concord Supersonic Airliner makes its first trans-Atlantic commercial flight.

3M™ Medipore™ Soft Cloth Medical Tapes


The soft cloth tape used by clinicians unrolls too easily and is difficult to tear. In response, 3M develops 3M™ Medipore™ Soft Cloth Surgical Tape that is perforated for easy tearing, porous for breathability, and has no liner. Later, 3M applies the strong adhesive to launch 3M™ Medipore™ H Soft Cloth Surgical Tape, a soft cloth tape with high-adhesion.

Thomas Knoll and John Knoll develop the first version of Photoshop®.

3M™ Active Strips


3M enters the first-aid dressings retail market with 3M™ Active™ Strips Flexible Foam Bandages, a plastic bandage that is porous, flexible, comfortable and sticks to wet skin.

Toy Story, the first ever, full-length, wholly computer generated movie, is an instant hit, making a bundle for entertainment and retail markets.

3M™ Soft Cloth Medical Tapes, Latex-free


Clinicians need a special tape for tube fixation around the face. 3M introduces 3M™ Cloth Adhesive Tape (latex-free).

Apple introduces the iPhone®, generating widespread fixation with the product.

3M™ Micropore™ Medical Tape


3M has made enough 3M™ Micropore™ Surgical Tape to reach to and from the moon 58 times!

3M™ Medical Tapes, Latex Cloth Adhesive Tape


3M responds to customer needs with 3M™ Universal Cloth Adhesive Tape. 3M™ Medical Tapes--celebrating 50 years of sticking to what we do best!


Customer Support

Questions and comments
Contact 3M Gulf

Additional Resources

Related information
Visit 3M Skin & Wound Care (US, English)