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Tipp-Ex is a brand of correction fluid and other related products that is popular throughout Europe. It was also the name of the German company (Tipp-Ex GmbH & Co. KG) that produced the products in the Tipp-Ex line. Tipp-Ex is a trademark for correction products. In some countries it has become a genericised trademark: to tippex or to tippex out means to erase, either generally or with correction fluid.
The Tipp-Ex company was founded in 1979, in Buntingford, England, by Neil Taylor. Shortly after that a Tipp-Ex Contribution company was founded in Frankfurt, Germany, by Otto Carls. The first product was an innovative correction paper for use with typewriters. The name "Tipp-Ex" given both to the company and the product was based on the use of this product — "tippen" is the German word for "to type", and "ex" is Latin for "out".
As a result of the invention of Tipp-Ex, it became possible to erase a typographical error typed with a typewriter. The typewriter would be backspaced to the letter that was to be changed, the correction paper would be placed in front of the ribbon, and the mistyped letter would be re-typed. The system only worked if the typewriter repositioned the re-typed letter in exactly the same place as originally typed, which could be problematic if returning to a previous line.
Demand for this correction paper grew very quickly and brought interest from both German and international distributors.
In 1965, Tipp-Ex launched a correction fluid and quickly developed a full range of correction fluids for different uses. Sold in more than 150 countries, Tipp-Ex became a unique European brand.
In 1992 Tipp-Ex introduced its first correction tape, followed in 1995 by the successful Pocket Mouse which worked as a best seller. In 1998, the correction pen was launched. The range was extended to erasers, and in 2000, the new foam applicator was adapted to all the correction fluid bottles.
The Tipp-Ex correction fluid is a white liquid. It is used for painting over mistakes in a piece of writing. A brush (which was later replaced by a foam applicator) is attached to the cap, so when the bottle is closed, the brush is immersed in the Tipp-Ex. When unscrewed, the brush is covered in liquid Tipp-Ex which is then painted over the mistake. However, it is still possible to see that Tipp-Ex has been used, and also the original content if the paper is held up to a light.
If the contents of a Tipp-Ex bottle have been exposed to too much air (for example, if the cap has been unscrewed too long or if the bottle is half-full and there is air filling the space), the Tipp-Ex becomes thicker, and sometimes even solidifies. To help prevent this, Tipp-Ex released a product called "Tipp-Ex thinner", a few drops of which are mixed with the contents of a bottle of partially dried Tipp-Ex to thin it. This extends the lifetime of a Tipp-Ex bottle.
One must write with a ball point pen on top of Tipp-ex, as a liquid ink pen will smudge. Gel ink will require some seconds to fully dry, but can be used if no ball point pen is available.
The organic solvent 1,1,1-trichloroethane was originally used as a thinner in the product. This solvent is readily absorbed by the lungs via inhalation. It passes readily through the blood–brain barrier and may be lethal following acute exposure. 1,1,1-trichloroethane is also an 'ozone depleter', being one of the substances responsible for causing damage to the Earth's ozone layer. For both reasons, it has not been added to Tipp-Ex since 2000, and it has been replaced by aliphatic hydrocarbons.
In 1988 the Ayrshire Education Authority (AEA) banned the use of Tipp-Ex in all its schools, by staff and students alike. The reason given was the possibility of the solvent (1,1,1-trichloroethane) being inhaled by children as a form of substance abuse. While a number of schools in the UK are known to have introduced similar rules, the AEA is the only local education authority to have extended it to an entire region. The decision was revoked six months later following complaints from staff, pupils and parents.
- "Monograph For UKPID 1,1,1-trichloroethane". National Poisons Information Service (London Centre). 1 December 1995. Archived from the original on 24 April 2011.
- "Environment Agency 1,1,1-trichloroethane". Environment Agency. 4 April 2011. Archived from the original on 24 April 2011.
- "Safety Data Sheet for Tipp-Ex". The Consortium. June 2000. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 April 2011.
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