Wheelhouse #6: Tape Edition

Wheelhouse is a newsletter for makers that covers new materials, techniques, and tools.

Painter’s Tape + Superglue Fixturing

The first step of using a CNC machine is figuring out how to hold the workpiece securely, and this can be an enormous challenge for thin, flat, or flexible pieces that can’t easily be held in a vice. Some people use double-sided foam tape or carpet tape, but both of these have a small amount of give and allow the workpiece to move. A trick adopted from luthiers involves placing blue painter’s tape on the workpiece and the stable surface and using cyanoacrylate glue to bind them together.

Very High Bond (VHB) Tape

VHB tape is a highly useful, extremely strong form of dual-sided tape. It is much tougher and stronger than usual double-sided tape, with both a stronger adhesive and a stronger foam between them. Because it has some flex, it will withstand thermal expansion and movement that other bonds might not and can be close to rivets or structural adhesive in strength. The full catalog offers a bunch of different varieties for different materials and uses.

Nonstick Surface-Grip Tape

"This grippy tape turns anything into non-skid. It has rubber adhesive, fiberglass body, and silicone grippy surface. If you put it on the back of a magnet, it will no longer slide across a smooth steel surface. Rubber bumpers and other rubber feet are good for lots of things, but when you don’t want or need added height, or when you have a weirdly shaped thing, this tape is amazing.” — @1lenore

Of course, McMaster has an entire department of both non-slip and ultra-slippery tapes.

Kapton Tape

Kapton Tape is resistant to extremely high temperature (over 350C or 700°F) and non-conductive, which makes it very useful in electrical environments. In the 3D printing world, it has seen some adoption as a bed material for ABS printing. It can also be laser cut (with some charring) and used as a solder paste stencil.

Z-axis Conductive Tape

Z-axis tape conducts from top to bottom, but not side-to-side, allowing you to stick conductive components together easily. It’s found creative uses in Chibitronics but could also be used for quickly mocking together circuit boards. (via @ticky)

Send us more!

As always, email me. Send in all the clever new materials and techniques, and the tapes I missed. I probably have enough material for another tape issue as well. In the coming weeks I will be covering glue, folding, and mechanical flexures. — @joshu