construction zone striping tape

The History / Invention of Temporary Pavement Marking Tapes (Pt 1)

history of pavement tapeIn the beginning, all stripes on roadways and parking lots were comprised of white or yellow paint that was either sprayed down, or rolled on. Today, paint is still used for permanent lines on lower traffic roads, whereas for high traffic roadways, long lasting poured on molten thermoplastic is used.  When MUTCD standards required that roads be marked even when under construction, temporary methods of marking roads and highways became necessary.  Paint can be used for these temporary lines, however, that requires having a paint crew on site at all times.  So a durable tape to mark roads that came in rolls, was easy to install,  was reflective, and removable, would be an ideal solution.

In 1974, a solution was invented.  3m (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing) applied for a patent for a removable pavement marking tape. It is described as – A decomposable, paper-backed, retroreflective, pavement-marking tape for use in providing removable pavement markings.

(When it was no longer needed, this tape could either be paved over, scraped up, or left to decompose.)

The tape is further described as follows –

1. A decomposable pavement-marking tape that is less than about 12 inches in width and is wound in roll form, comprising a crepe-paper water-resistant backing that is impregnated with polymeric binder material and that carries on one side a bonding layer of heat-degradable polymeric material; a monolayer of randomly scattered transparent microspheres that are between about 100 and 1,000 micrometers in average diameter and are partially embedded in, and partially exposed above, the bonding layer of polymeric material; and a layer of pressure-sensitive adhesive material carried on the side of the paper backing opposite from the monolayer of microspheres.

Of note is that this entry into temporary parking lot striping by 3m represented decades of research and development in the area of reflective road striping. In 1937, they actually began attempts at creating durable road striping that would come in rolls, however, because of durability issues, they switched their efforts towards a reflective film for signs and created the worlds first engineer grade reflective tape.  In 1974, after reengineering their original idea for reflective road striping, they patented the first reflective road marking tapes. While still not as popular as paint or thermoplastic, 3m’s invention is widely used all over the world today. It also now comes in both temporary and permanent grades. You would most likely know this product by its brand name, Stamark.

invention pavement tape

Click Here for Article 2 – The history of foil back pavement tape.