The history of stickers is quite intricate and funny. It all started back in the late nineteenth century when a doctor was trying to come up with a medical plaster that would replace the bandage by sticking to the skin. However, he didn’t get a chance to do it, but some result was obtained. Self-adhesive “patches” appeared to be indispensable for the quick repair of bicycle tires. This is how the self-adhesive sheet technology debuted.
The world owes its modern stickers to Dr. Spence Silver, who worked for 3M. In 1968, he came up with the idea of creating an improved adhesive for scotch tape. Silver began experimenting and managed to create a water and heat-resistant adhesive. The new material stuck well to all surfaces. Yet Spence Silver never decided what to do with the invention, and postponed his recipe until better times.
It took another seven years to research the market and refine technologies, and in 1980, the same 3M company began producing the first stickers of two types, namely in the form of blocks of small blank sheets (they soon became multi-colored) for household and corporate needs (nowadays these stickers are used at work and home as operational or long-term “reminders”) and with a ready-made printed image on the front side. It could be just emotional “messages”, like “smiles”, and advertising of specific products, and political slogans, especially in demand during election campaigns.
As for vinyl stickers, the enterprising Japanese were the first to invent them. During the organization of sports car races, each car had to be designated with its own number. The Japanese considered it too expensive an idea to paint numbers on cars with permanent paints, so they decided to apply the number with paint on vinyl adhesive tape. Such a simple idea turned out to be a genius, and subsequently spread throughout the world.
Believe it or not, the adhesive recipe has remained the same for over 120 years. Of course, a sticker on a car or a sticker on household appliances has a slightly modified recipe (due to operating conditions), but the main ingredients and the method of preparing the adhesive do not change.