Blu-Tack® for researchers

Blu-Tack®, say its manufacturers, is designed to hang posters, hold many ordinary household objects in place and temporarily stop leaks around the house. Since its launch c. 1969 researchers across the globe have found a plethora of alternative and imaginative applications for the substance, many of which have been carefully documented in the academic literature … Here are but a few examples of its uses :

• As portable full stops (periods) to teach writing skills

• For removing foreign (bodily) objects

• Immobilizing roots of barley plants

• Blocking raingauge funnels for calibration

• Gas flow regulation in stout can widget testing

• Making artificial lesions for x ray imaging tests

• As a semiconducting paste to affix conductors for high voltage cable testing

• Finger immobilizing during fingerprint pore area assessment

• Making sense of the biochemistry of proteins

• As an effective sound-attenuating ear plug

• As a simple mass load for the eardrum in PET scans

• Making labyrinths for a hot ice computer

There are though (as with any substance) things that it just shouldn’t be used for : See:

• A sticky problem resolved: the removal of Blu-Tack and other putty adhesives from objects at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian archaeology

• A novel method to remove an unusual intravesical foreign body (Blu-Tack™)


Notes:

[1] Our illustration is loosely inspired by the work of Martin Creed.
See: Work No. 79, Some Blu- Tack kneaded, rolled into a ball, and depressed against a wall, 1993.

[2] Can we clarify that Blu-Tack is Blu-Tack White that has been dyed blue, rather than Blu-Tack that has been dyed white.

[3] Some publications use a hyphen in the name – indeed Bostik itself sometimes does, and sometimes doesn’t (see links above). We are sticking to the hyphenated version.

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