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If it’s broken, fix it – that’s the motto behind the product idea of Sugru®. The company has set itself a goal to help protect the environment and conserve resources by producing and selling fewer new products. With this malleable adhesive, everyday objects can be repaired and embellished quickly and easily. It’s not for nothing that the patented, multiple-award winning product has a million-strong fan base and is shaking up the DIY movement. In 2018, Sugru® became a part of the tesa product world.
Shockproof protection for a camera, a covering for a fragile smartphone charging cable, a hook for towels: Sugru® can provide all this, and 1000 things more. Sugru® is available in many colors, and its possible applications are virtually infinite, ranging from fastening and bonding to sealing, insulation, closing cracks and holes, and protection or marking. By the way, the brand name Sugru® is derived from the Irish word for “play.” That’s fitting since there are no limits to your imagination when you use the unique mouldable adhesive.
Inventor Jane ní Dhulchaointigh didn’t know any different when growing up on a farm - broken items got repaired. When she moved to the city, she had to get used to the fact that a lot was thrown away and purchased new. She studied product design at the Royal College of Art – and noticed that the focus was primarily on developing new products rather than repairing old ones. She learned, experimented, and then mixed silicone and sawdust, and the results were terrific. It looked like wood but bounced like a table tennis ball.
"Do I really want to design new products? There’s already too much waste in the world, and I don’t want to buy new things all the time either. What if I could just fix, improve, or reinterpret things that I already have, so I can use them again?"
To further develop her idea, ní Dhulchaointigh and her husband James Carrigan, together with British entrepreneur Roger Ashby, brought two retired silicone specialists out of retirement. A total of 8000 hours in the lab, about 5000 experiments, and six years total were needed to develop Sugru® before the patent was granted for the mouldable multifunctional adhesive, which combines the strength of a high-performance adhesive with the flexibility of rubber. With Sugru®, materials such as aluminum, steel, ceramics, glass, wood and many others can be permanently joined, and in most cases removed from a surface with a sharp knife.
1. Take it out of the package and knead it
This makes Sugru® flexible, soft and super mouldable.
2. Mold and create
With Sugru®, you can now repair, seal, cushion, adhere, improve, embellish and much more.
3. Dry for 24 hours and use for years
Sugru® turns into a durable but still flexible silicone rubber.
When Sugru® is removed from the package, it remains mouldable for about 30 minutes. It takes 24 hours for it to harden and develop a rubbery surface. After that, it holds its shape, is elastic and waterproof, and withstands temperatures from -50°C to +180°C. Time magazine agreed that these are excellent qualities when it placed Sugru® at number 22 out of the world’s 50 best inventions of 2010 (by the way, the iPad was number 34). And the European Patent Office (EPO) also saw Sugru® as a breakthrough invention, honoring it with the European Inventor Award in 2018.
"The invention opens up new possibilities for repairing and customizing objects. Sugru® also helps us rethink our attitude when it comes to throwing out broken items and creating waste."
Over 2.5 million users worldwide are now part of the Sugru® fan movement. No wonder, since the smart compound fits perfectly into a new awareness of sustainability. Repairing things or making them yourself is not a short-lived trend; it constitutes a conscious use of resources. ní Dhulchaointigh took advantage of this public awareness when she was developing Sugru®. Shortly before the market launch in 2009, she and Tom Dowden, the company’s first permanent employee and current research director, consulted with a 150-member user group. Only through their continuous feedback on improvement of the product could Sugru® become what it is today.
"We want to change the world. To inspire others to be creative, we need to be creative ourselves, whether it’s about how we convey our message or how we can make our product more user-friendly and attractive."
The flexibility and possible applications of Sugru® won over tesa as well. In May 2018, tesa SE acquired London-based FormFormForm Ltd., and with it, Sugru®. It’s a win-win situation for both companies: tesa expands its product range in the field of intelligent fastening solutions with a product that can be used in many different ways, and especially appeals to young target groups. And FormFormForm Ltd., with around 60 employees, benefits from our infrastructure and the strong international tesa® brand.
Sugru® is strengthening tesa’s market position in self-adhesive products. But the company’s online business expertise also provides momentum as we implement our digital strategy.
Corporate Vice President, Consumer & Craftsmen, tesa SE