Masking Tapes

Masking tapes, one issue that has been discussed a lot but I think it is quite interesting for the modelers and raises further analysis is the Masking Tape”. The reason is to explore the data source, application and technical features that are not exposed to the extent that it should be.

All started when alternative market for the masking of models for painting revealed. The comparison up to now is the tape from TAMIYA (the best fit), but someone wondered why this tape is so special, which are the specific technical characteristics of the tape to understand it and be able to compare with other products on the market that may be just as well and many times cheaper. There are of course some other examples of tapes that exist today and are specialized for this reason in modeling.

Since the tape TAMIYA is probably the best for modeling, we are comparing other tapes from market saying that it is “equally” or “identical” or even “better” from TAMIYA. I can understand that especially when the exact specifications of TAMIYA are not published and only assumptions can be made. So here will override the logic, research, reports, the forums and any information available to catch it from the beginning this subject.

After research on this matter the particular tape (TAMIYA) placed in the category of “Washi Tape” or else “Japanese Flat Tape” and is theoretically made of rice paper. Mention in theory because in fact it is paper made from natural fibers such as bamboo, but more often from the bark of trees that are native to Japan as the mulberry bush or from tree called Mitsumata gampi. The result of this paper is flexibility, does not break easily and it turns out very thin and clean lines at the edges, which are the major differences from conventional paper tapes of general use. The model then is the “Washi Tape” or  “Special Tape” or even as “UV Tape” for special applications. That’s for the origin and the standard, more information on the web.

Now let’s go to the other features that distinguish even more this tape from others. The closest relative of TAMIYA is  tape 3M 244. Here to make a parenthesis and to mention that # 244 specifies the use of the tape and not necessarily the same technical characteristics. Specifically # 244 Korean production (and Japanese) is different from the European 244. Not just the features but also the coding. I think the TAMIYA comply with Korean (and Japanese) standards rather with European, logically thinking. Below you will see in details the differences which are official figures from 3M. Let’s see in details one by one the technical characteristics and other important data.

Thickness – One of the most important elements is the thickness of the film. Generally, the smaller the better for our purposes since the tape is more flexible at lesser thickness. The Korean 244 has a thickness of 0,08 mm while the European 244 has a thickness of 0,085 mm.

Adhesive – Acrylic adhesive and only for our application. And 244 Korean and 244 European have acrylic adhesive.

Temperature performance – is what many times you’ve heard “it is baked at 100 degrees.” The Korean 244 to 150 ° C (about 30min) and the European 244 to 100 ° C (about 30min).

Tensile strength and Adhesion to steel – Because they have different units of measurement (different standards) I will not analyze their differences. The only factor to bear in mind is that better in our application to have the smallest measurement since we are talking about an adhesive strength of the glue that you find on the tape.

Elongation – The Korean 244 at 5% while the European 244 6%. Negligible difference.

Color – Irrelevant to my opinion although the usual color is gold or yellow because below you will see tapes just as good in other colors. Both tapes have almost the same golden color with Korean 244 to be more close to yellow.

Sizes – The more sizes the better. Both come in sizes like – 19mmX50m – 25mmX50m-30mmX50m – 38mmX50m – 44mmX50m – 50mmX 50m.

A comparison of these tapes, Korean is superior but practically you are not going to understand the difference. Codes from 3M for the European 244:

KT100002353 244 PAPER TAPE YELLOW UV 19mm X 50m
KT100002361 244 PAPER TAPE YELLOW UV 25mm X 50m
KT100002379 244 PAPER TAPE YELLOW UV 30mm X 50m
KT100002387 244 PAPER TAPE YELLOW UV 38mm X 50m
KT100003088 244 PAPER TAPE YELLOW UV 44mm X 50m
KT100002395 244 PAPER TAPE YELLOW UV 50mm X 50m

The below the table is the “allowable” values ​​when you want to check if a tape that you found is Okay:

– Thickness – from 0,08 mm to 0,09 mm (in ideal cases up to 0,1 mm)
– Adhesion – Acrylic glue only
– Temperature performance – From 100 ° C and above is ideal but not
– Tensile strength – up 45 N/10 mm is acceptable
– Adhesion to metal – until 2 N/10 mm (above the plastic film surface can lift
  and color)
– Elongation – up to 8% is acceptable (if you find more than 10% is for
  another use)
– Color – Any
– Sizes – The more sizes available the better

Reports from other forums to replace TAMIYA with other tapes:

1. Shurtape Razor Edge Gold / CP 60 in USA – CP 60

2. KIP 308 FineLine tape Washi in Germany – KIP 308

However if we look carefully we will see that there is a better tape than the 308 with better features, the 311 FineLine-tape Washi – KIP 311

3. The NITTO – Masking Tape with Well-Balanced Quality and Workability No.7239 – NITTO 7239

4. Tesa ® 4333 Precision Mask ® Sensitive – Tesa 4333

5. Tesa ® 4334 Precision Mask – tesa 4334

The above are some examples of tapes that you can find instead of TAMIYA and 3M. It is noteworthy to mention that the first three companies (Shurtape, KIP, NITTO) are essentially the same company (the KIP and NITTO are subsidiaries of American Shurtape), coincidence I think not.

Finally closing the subject , I would say that there certainly are a lot of materials and tools in the market that are equally qualitatively modelling materials, such as tools and materials that help us in the beginning of our work without spending too much money.

I hope this post to be informative and if you have any comments or feedback, you are welcome.

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