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Discover what made the future: Pratleys Putty

Just short of 50 years ago a relatively unknown South African product made the long journey to the moon aboard the Apollo 11 Eagle. It was taken on the trip due to its versatility and strength as a fixing agent.

Pratley’s Putty was developed as an insulator and an adhesive agent. It was developed in a small garage in Hillbrow, South Africa, rented by The Pratley Manufacturing and Engineering Company. George Pratley started his company with £349, the equivalent of about £7,000 (R130,000) today.

This trip to the moon put Pratley’s Putty on the map and would even be used to halt cracking on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It could be used to glue metal and wood together and can even be used underwater in swimming pools or to perform quick fixes on ships. It was the first of its kind and gave Pratley’s company the platform to expand.

After Pratley’s death in 1983 his son took over and the company grew from strength to strength. The fastest setting adhesive in the world, Pratley Wham, was launched in 1993 with a memorable demonstration. A steel plate with a hook was fixed with the adhesive to the roof of a VW Beetle and would be lifted up by a crane a mere 5 seconds later. It wouldn’t stay on the market for too long because it set so fast that it was too difficult to use.

The company has patented over 300 products and exports 800 products worldwide.

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