When we launched The Blast Shop in 1984 choosing which was the best stencil tape to use was a fairly easy decision to make. Anchor made three tapes - 111, 112 and 123. 3M sold their own versions of these which, because of the way 3M products were marketed in the UK, were 50% more expensive - so choosing between Anchor and 3M was a no brainer! Finally you had Barnier and Tesa producing paper tapes for shallow blast, hand-cut designs and lettering. Oh that it was that still that simple.
Take Anchor for example. Anchor alone now make twenty three different tapes, some of which are sold in as many as nine different widths! The advent of computerised stencil cutting in the late 80’s meant that new materials, which were previously difficult to cut either by hand or on the old stencil presses, could now be used for stencilling. With this came a whole myriad of new players into the market and the choice of tapes ballooned.
With the rise of PVC tapes there are now a number of players in this market. Until recently there was little change in the use of rubber tapes, if you wanted rubber, Anchor was still the most cost effective and reliable solution. We are however continuing to look at rubber tapes with 3M looking at launching a new rubber tape in the UK. Their pricing policy into the UK has changed so maybe there is another big player coming into the UK market.
Choosing the best tape now for use in any given situation is now quite a complex issue so where do you start?