Duct tape decoded: the fascinating chemistry behind the ultimate fix-all (video)

According to this new YouTube video, duct tape was invented during World War II as a way to quickly repair ammunition boxes in the field. That alone was surprising to me because I thought it was for connecting duct tubing, as the name suggests.

Watch as Engineer Guy places a strip of duct tape in a solvent, breaking it down into its three key elements: the plastic backing, the cloth reinforcement, and the pressure-sensitive adhesive. The cloth provides strength and tear resistance, while the adhesive enables the tape to stick to surfaces, hold objects together, and be removed without leaving a sticky mess behind.

The video explores the science behind adhesives, contrasting traditional glues that dry and become solid with the pressure-sensitive adhesives used in duct tape. It introduces the concept of tackifiers, which provide stickiness, and viscoelastic materials like rubber that allow the adhesive to spread, hold, and be removed. It also explains how engineers have tackled the challenge of controlling stickiness by applying release coatings to the silver colored backing, allowing the tape to be wound into rolls without sticking to itself and making it easy to unwind and apply.

Previously: Youtuber makes duct tape kayak to escape `the island`