The History of Scotchgard
A young chemical researcher who was hired in 1952 by 3M had the task to develop a new type of rubber that would resists deterioration from aircraft fuels. As it happens many times in the scientific area, she failed at this project but stumbled upon creating Scotchgard instead. In 1953 an assistant to Sherman’s lab accidentally dripped some of this new product on her tennis shoes and she was unable to remove the spots. She tried soaps, alcohol and other cleaning products but to no avail.
But she was fascinated by the resistance and the resiliency of the Scotchgard solution. This brand new product was a development of a fluorochemical polymer that could actually repel oil and water from fabrics.
In 1956 the joint research team of Sherman and Smith launched the Scotchgard name into the marketplace, and a broad line of Scotchgard products were on their way to the public.
Scotchgard brand has remained the world market leader ever since its discovery. Fittingly, it was Smith’s son, a researcher at 3M, who enhanced the environmental performance of the newer Scotchgard products.
Quite literally, Scotchgard was found by accident, and many products designed by 3M were stemmed from accidental discoveries. The company was always in motion, creating and trying new things for decades.
As for Sherman, her continuing career with 3M was one of constant innovation. She eventually became the Manager of Technical Development, and retired in 1992.