Sticky Note

What do you do when you need to remember something? Write it on a sticky note and just stick it. What if you stuck it on the wrong page? You take it off and stick it again.

This might seem like a menial task but there’s an amazing amount of science that goes into making it as effortless as it is. Invented over 40 years ago, Post-Its became an instant success. Many companies copied the idea and rebranded it but could never snatch the popularity of the product from 3M. The research on its discovery dates back to the 1960’s when the company wanted to develop a polymer for adhesives.

The science behind the Sticky Notes

Spencer Silver, the lead scientist behind the Post-Its, acquired ADM monomers and experimented with the process of polymerization with very specific ratios and ingredients. This polymerization resulted in the formation of an adhesive which would do zero harm to any of the elements it is sticking to.

Why the Sticky Notes always stick?

The adhesive on the sticky notes is placed in the form of blobs on the Post-It paper. These blobs are randomly spread out over the sticking surface and every time we re-stick the note, a different set of adhesive blobs are used. This makes the sticky notes last longer.

Evolution of the Sticky Notes

Spencer was fascinated by this discovery and started working on its application but couldn’t achieve significant success until he decided to make a sticky bulletin board. Later, Silver was transferred to the Systems Research division of the company, where he talked about his invention with a colleague. His colleague, in turn, told his problem about how his bookmark keeps falling off the books. That problem stuck in Silver’s head and he thought of the ‘Temporarily Permanent’ bookmark, which later turned into Sticky Notes.

Soon, 3M branded the product and released it for the masses. Within 4 years, Post-It was the company’s highest selling product. The customers described it as becoming an addiction. A decade later, Post-It crossed sales of 100 million dollars. This was an unimaginable milestone for a piece of stationery.

Over the years as the patent expired, the competition intensified, 3M still dominated the market it had created. 3M realized the full potential of this adhesive and soon implemented it in Notepads, Interior Designing Kits, Medical Bandages and 300 more products.

So, the next time you peel that note off, cherish the magical piece of innovation you are holding in your hand – The Sticky Note.


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