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Not All Tapes Are Created Equal

chaydock

Junior Member
#1
Ok. So who hasn't seen an episode where some part of the plane is taped together? In some of the newer episodes I've watched, the FT crew has been advocating using "Extreme Packing Tape" which from the video looks to have bi-directional reinforcement filaments in it. Knowing nothing else other than my experience about other reinforced tapes I took this to be great stuff and nodded in agreement. Then, today I set out looking to buy some and with little difficulty found several stores which carried it. One of the things on the product description that caught my attention however was the phrase "Hot Melt." Curious as to what this meant, I set out on a quest for knowledge. What I feel was probably the best resource in my short search was actually a series of short YouTube videos by IPS Packaging. An older fellow explains the differences in several different kinds of tapes to include what "Hot Melt" meant.

Main video about hot melt tapes...

Full relevant list of what I found...

Now, after watching the videos, I'm not so sure I agree that the extreme packing tape is the best option. One of the weaknesses mentioned in the videos is that hot melt adhesive has a few weaknesses, 2 of which I think would be a concern to the RC hobbyist and a 3rd that is probably not too much of an issue.

  1. Hot melt adhesive degrades rapidly with exposure to UV (aka the sun).
  2. After about a year, the adhesive will crystallize and become brittle. This is also accelerated by UV.
  3. The adhesive tends to turn yellow as it ages. Again, this is probably moot if you are already dealing with the reinforcement filaments anyway.

Not having used hot melt tapes in RC before, my question to the community is...
"Do you have long term problems with your hot melt tapes?"

One thing the guy mentions in his videos is that when selecting the best tape for the job there are two major considerations. One is to select a carrier/backer of appropriate strength for the job. The other is to select the appropriate adhesive for conditions of use. I think the reinforced filament is an awesomely strong carrier from my past experiences with similar tapes. As for the adhesive, I've used rubber tapes in the navy that yellowed and became brittle. I think everyone has probably used duct tape and found years down the road that it's adhesive is little more than yellow dust. So, is using this type of adhesive tape really appropriate for RC planes?

I did some hunting on 3M's web site looking for possible substitutes. Unfortunately, in the world of 3M, there is little offered that comes even close to matching the combined strength and adhesion of the tape FT recommends. But, if the tape is no good after a year... is the candle burning too brightly? Or is that the price we must pay for this kind of performance?

Don't take my asking this the wrong way. I love the guys at FT. If nobody out there has had any issues, I guess we can chalk this up as a stupid question. The strength and adhesion capability of the tape is top notch after all. Only it's life expectancy is being drawn into question.
 
Last edited:

xuzme720

Dedicated foam bender
Mentor
#2
I'm thinking most of the FT planes don't have that long a lifespan, either through accelerated ground/plane interface or close interaction with plane eating trees, or even by two airframes occupying the same airspace. You know, normal R/C attrition.

I know the foamboard makes a great building material due to it's availability, low cost and other attributes which make it easy to build with. However, it does have an inherently limited lifespan, and based on that, I'm thinking that the EPT's adhesive will last longer than the airframe, in most cases anyway. For more long term building, the longevity of the materials involved will definitely need to be considered!
 

Tritium

Amateur Extra Class K5TWM
#3
Crash Test Hobby also recommends the same tape BUT they have a UV protective laminate that covers it on most builds. My latest build of the Versa Wing uses both extreme packing tape and DI 1/2 Laminate intended for laminating Digital Images (think Movie Posters). I really like it and it has another advantage of greatly strengthening the airframe and making it very slick (reducing drag).

Thurmond
 

chaydock

Junior Member
#4
I'm thinking most of the FT planes don't have that long a lifespan, either through accelerated ground/plane interface or close interaction with plane eating trees, or even by two airframes occupying the same airspace. You know, normal R/C attrition.
Thanks for the reply. I was pondering this as an option as well. I currently don't fly in groups or crash in trees too often as I'm flying out in farm country. But crashing is definitely something that happens now and again. :D
 

chaydock

Junior Member
#5
.....it has another advantage of greatly strengthening the airframe and making it very slick (reducing drag).

Thurmond
Thanks for the input. :) BTW... Have you noticed any difference in performance or increased flight times with the lower drag? I'm curious if the increase in performance is offset by the added weight of the tape. I'm guessing unless you've benched a before and after using something like the Spectrum TM1000 there's no knowing for sure any performance changes. But, a standard kitchen scale would easily tell you the weight increase. Just curious.
 

xuzme720

Dedicated foam bender
Mentor
#6
Thanks for the reply. I was pondering this as an option as well. I currently don't fly in groups or crash in trees too often as I'm flying out in farm country. But crashing is definitely something that happens now and again. :D
I would say the same thing usually, but for some reason I have put 4 different planes in four different trees just this week. Only one plane in a tree in the 6 months before that....
I did get them all back same day with no damage, but I'm starting to suspect the trees are mad and conspiring now, being denied for so long!
 

Tritium

Amateur Extra Class K5TWM
#7
Thanks for the input. :) BTW... Have you noticed any difference in performance or increased flight times with the lower drag? I'm curious if the increase in performance is offset by the added weight of the tape. I'm guessing unless you've benched a before and after using something like the Spectrum TM1000 there's no knowing for sure any performance changes. But, a standard kitchen scale would easily tell you the weight increase. Just curious.
Have not flown it yet but the Crash Hobbies Planes have a pretty good following and some tremendously long flight times for the bigger wings.

I like the laminate over using tape. It is far cheaper and lighter too I think.

I just picked up a 854 sq foot roll of 1 mill thick / 2 mill glue UV Protected for $75 delivered. I would not even like to think about the price of that much tape.:p

Thurmond
 
#13
Ok. So who hasn't seen an episode where some part of the plane is taped together? In some of the newer episodes I've watched, the FT crew has been advocating using "Extreme Packing Tape" which from the video looks to have bi-directional reinforcement filaments in it. Knowing nothing else other than my experience about other reinforced tapes I took this to be great stuff and nodded in agreement. Then, today I set out looking to buy some and with little difficulty found several stores which carried it. One of the things on the product description that caught my attention however was the phrase "Hot Melt." Curious as to what this meant, I set out on a quest for knowledge. What I feel was probably the best resource in my short search was actually a series of short YouTube videos by IPS Packaging. An older fellow explains the differences in several different kinds of tapes to include what "Hot Melt" meant.

Main video about hot melt tapes...

Full relevant list of what I found...

Now, after watching the videos, I'm not so sure I agree that the extreme packing tape is the best option. One of the weaknesses mentioned in the videos is that hot melt adhesive has a few weaknesses, 2 of which I think would be a concern to the RC hobbyist and a 3rd that is probably not too much of an issue.

  1. Hot melt adhesive degrades rapidly with exposure to UV (aka the sun).
  2. After about a year, the adhesive will crystallize and become brittle. This is also accelerated by UV.
  3. The adhesive tends to turn yellow as it ages. Again, this is probably moot if you are already dealing with the reinforcement filaments anyway.

Not having used hot melt tapes in RC before, my question to the community is...
"Do you have long term problems with your hot melt tapes?"

One thing the guy mentions in his videos is that when selecting the best tape for the job there are two major considerations. One is to select a carrier/backer of appropriate strength for the job. The other is to select the appropriate adhesive for conditions of use. I think the reinforced filament is an awesomely strong carrier from my past experiences with similar tapes. As for the adhesive, I've used rubber tapes in the navy that yellowed and became brittle. I think everyone has probably used duct tape and found years down the road that it's adhesive is little more than yellow dust. So, is using this type of adhesive tape really appropriate for RC planes?

I did some hunting on 3M's web site looking for possible substitutes. Unfortunately, in the world of 3M, there is little offered that comes even close to matching the combined strength and adhesion of the tape FT recommends. But, if the tape is no good after a year... is the candle burning too brightly? Or is that the price we must pay for this kind of performance?

Don't take my asking this the wrong way. I love the guys at FT. If nobody out there has had any issues, I guess we can chalk this up as a stupid question. The strength and adhesion capability of the tape is top notch after all. Only it's life expectancy is being drawn into question.
Chaydock, I have had great success with 3m extreme packing tape and have used it for 3 years. $9 at home depot. I would recommend it to anyone, BUT, there are a couple drawbacks. The tape is heavy. so it must be used sparingly. It has a definite lifespan where after a few months it begins to break down and needs to be replaced. And it doesn't hold paint well. But I have found a much better alternative that is super light, holds better than any tape, and is paintable. Foam tac glue with fiberglass drywall tape. Quick,cheap and easy. Bryce Graves did a nice video on that.
 

chaydock

Junior Member
#16
Chaydock, I have had great success with 3m extreme packing tape and have used it for 3 years. $9 at home depot. I would recommend it to anyone, BUT, there are a couple drawbacks. The tape is heavy. so it must be used sparingly.
I hadn't even thought about how heavy it would be until I watched the video you posted. He definitely needs to consider weight for as much reinforcing as he does. But with his new method, it looks like added weight isn't as much of a problem for him. I often like overdoing things too, so I may follow in his footsteps. :)

It has a definite lifespan where after a few months it begins to break down and needs to be replaced.
That was my primary concern. I like to hold onto stuff for a while and keep using it as long as possible. My neighbor has an old RC plane that has repaired several times and it's 20 years old! Admittedly, he only occasionally flys it. But still!

And it doesn't hold paint well. But I have found a much better alternative that is super light, holds better than any tape, and is paintable. Foam tac glue with fiberglass drywall tape. Quick,cheap and easy. Bryce Graves did a nice video on that.
Excellent alternative! I definitely want to explore this option more deeply. I already have some fiberglass drywall tape from home remodeling projects... although mine is non-oriented and has no adhesive on it. That could be an interesting comparison. I can definitely speak to its lightweight characteristics though. The whole 250 foot roll hardly weighs anything.