Thursday, August 04, 2005

Duct Tape - The Silver Savior of our Lives


Not a large part of the NASA budget, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

Many of us by now have heard about if not seen, Discovery astronaut Stephen Robinson rip out two pieces of filler that were dangling from the space shuttle's belly. There was concern that the filler mighty potentially overheat during re-entry and lead to another Columbia-type disaster. As know now, the mission was successful, and although the space-walk itself is a generally grand undertaking, the actual operation was completed in just a matter of moments.

There was an aspect to the whole process that caught my attention and it had to do with the make-shift hacksaw that the Discovery engineers put together just in case the filler material were not to rip away too easily. The ideas was that they would saw through the material if needed. The device (pictured above) is that the near 'Star-Trek' looking device one mighty expect. In fact it is not even something you would see at the local hardware store.

Basically NASA put on its own version of 'Junkyard Wars' and crafted this fine hacksaw out of several materials, the most important (and conspicuous) being the very liberal application of Duct Tape. That caught my eye and my interest.

Duct Tape - History and Application

Duct Tape was first manufactured by the Johnson and Johnson Permacel division in 1942.
It is originally referred to as "Duck Tape", not only because it was waterproof, but also because it was made from cotton duck, similar to what is used in medical tape (sort of like its closest cousin in the tape family)
Its first use was to keep moisture out of the ammunition cases for the military but it wasn't long before military personnel discovered just how versatile this tape was and began to use it to fix their guns, jeeps, tents etc.
After World War II the tape color was changed from Army green to silver, as it better matched the heating and air conditioning ductwork it begant to hold together (its new use in the housing industry). It begant to be referred to as Duct Tape from this point on.


Duct tape is a strong tape that is composed of three layers. The top layer (1) is a resilient plastic (Polyethelyne). The bottom layer (3) is a rubber-based adhesive. The middle layer (2) is a fabric mesh. Duct tape was manufactured by pressing these three layers together. Now, some manufacturers have created a process that makes the same strong, three layer tape in just one step. While there are stronger tapes (like filament tape), duct tape, when doubled over onto itself can pull a 2000 lb. car out of a ditch, and has the distinct benefit of not requiring any other tools to cut it - you just rip it with your bare hands.


My personal feeling is that there are three guarantees in life:
You will die.
You will pay taxes.
And you will use duct tape.

I personally have used duct tape to repair fishing rods, hold carpet together, patch up the canvas roof on my parents car (very stylish), repair dings on my surfboard, and to repair a garden hose.

I even know someone who on occasstion will use duct tape instead of a band aid, or stitches (no joke).

If you want to check out some other funky uses for duct tape, check out these links:

Duct Tape Fashion - some wild looking fashion items made from the silver savior
Ductigami - The Art of the Tape (in paperback)
Duct Tape Guys - in a way...we are all Duct Tape Guys

Believe it or not there are fan clubs and annual contests and scholarships for Duct Tape and its uses.

I close by including the final quote I found on the web:

"One only needs two tools in life: WD-40 to make things go, and duct tape to make them stop."
--G. Weilacher

WD-40....the other miracle household item.

Much of my source material was found here



Posted by mightymerk, 10:59 PM

2 Comments:

By Blogger Vector

Oh yeah, duct tape rocks! MacGyver couldn't go on without it!

I was also watching the 'repair' of the shuttle. I remember reading from somewhere that after a landing some of those tiles are cracked and some may be even missing.
Maybe I remember wrong.
Also I thought there is still a thick layer of insulation material underneath those bricks.

Anyway, I guess they can't take any unnecessary risks now. If this landing would be a disaster the space program would probably grind into a halt for a very long period of time. And that would be a shame.

@ 4:29 PM  

By Blogger Lewis E. Moten III

I made a duct tape wallet once. Duct tape is just fun to play with. It's amazing with all the stuff people come up with.

@ 5:46 PM  

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