Blu Tack is a reusable putty-like pressure-sensitive adhesive produced by Bostik, commonly used to attach lightweight objects (such as posters or sheets of paper) to walls, doors or other dry surfaces. Traditionally blue, it is also available in other colours. Generic versions of the product are also available from other manufacturers. The spelling now used is without the hyphen.
The composition of Blu Tack is a manufacturing secret but is described as a synthetic rubber compound without hazardous properties under normal conditions. It can be swallowed without harm and is noncarcinogenic. It is non-soluble and is denser than water. The material is not flammable, but emits carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide when exposed to fire or high temperatures.
Blu Tack was originally developed in 1969 as an accidental by-product of an attempt to develop a new sealant using chalk powder, rubber and oil. The name of the inventor is unknown. Originally Blu Tack was white, but consumer research showed fears that children may mistake it for chewing gum, and a blue colouring was added.
In the United Kingdom in March 2008, 20,000 numbered packs of pink Blu Tack were made available, to help raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign, with 10 pence from each pack going to the charity. The formulation was slightly altered to retain complete consistency with its blue counterpart. Since then, many coloured variations have been made, including red and white, yellow and a green Halloween pack.
Similar products of various colours are made by many manufacturers, including Faber-Castell's "Tack-it", Henkel's "Fun-Tak", UHU's "Poster Putty" and "Sticky Tack","Gummy Sticker" Pritt's "Sticky Stuff", Bostik's "Prestik" and Elmer's "Poster Tack". Plasti-Tak by Brooks Manufacturing Company appears to pre-date Blu Tack, with a copyright registration in 1964.
Versions of the product are also sold under the generic names "adhesive putty" and "mounting putty". The generic trademark or common name for mounting putty varies by region. It is known as "Patafix" in France, Italy, and Portugal, Kennaratyggjó ("teacher's chewing gum") in Iceland, Häftmassa ("attachment mass") or kludd in Sweden, and wondergom in South Africa (an Afrikaans word, literally translated as "wonder glue").
Like all poster putties, Blu Tack provides an alternative to the artist's traditional kneaded eraser, having a superior grip and plasticity. Blu Tack can be finely shaped and worked into even very small areas. Like kneaded erasers, it can be stretched and kneaded to freshen its working surfaces.
Some scale model hobbyists use Blu Tack as a masking medium for painting camouflage schemes, as it can be easily molded to any shape and will not react with or lift the underlying paint.
Blu Tack is also used for sculpture. In 2007 artist Elizabeth Thompson created a 200 kg (440 lb) sculpture of a house spider using Blu Tack over a wire frame. It took around 4000 packs and was exhibited at London Zoo. Other artists have created works from the material including stop-motion animation.
A small amount of Blu Tack can be placed on the head of a screw to hold it onto a screwdriver.
Blu Tack can also be used to clean in-ear headphones by gently pressing putty into mesh of headphones.
Blu Tack can be regarded as a comfortable alternative to over-the-counter ear plugs for the attenuation of everyday sound.
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- Ward, James (2015). Adventures in Stationery (paperback ed.). London: Profile Books. pp. 213–214. ISBN 978 1 84668 616 0. (Statements on the internet suggesting that Blu Tack was invented by somebody called ‘Alan Holloway’ all appear to derive from an unsourced 2007 edit to this page, since removed).
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