Testing Lab

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Magnetic Tape Composition

Magnetic tape is comprised of three elements: the binder (top coat), magnetic particles, and the backing.

The binder holds the magnetic particles in place, and on the tape backing. The binder records and stores the magnetic signals written to it, and determines the frequency responses, sensitivity distortion, and signal-to-noise ratio.  The binder provides a smooth surface to facilitate transportation of the tape through the recording system during the record and playback processes. Three elements are added to the binder to help transport the tape and to facilitate information playback:


  • a lubricant, to reduce friction and tape wear
  • a head-cleaning agent to reduce the occurrence of head clogs, resulting in dropouts
  • a carbon black is added to reduce static charges

The substrate (backing film) is needed to support the magnetic recording layer
An optional back coat is applied to the backside of the substrate layer. A back coat is used to reduce tape friction, dissipate static charge, and reduce tape distortion by providing a more uniform tape wind on the tape reel.

These three elements: binder, magnetic particles, and backing-are potential sources of failure for a magnetic tape medium. It is important to maintain your magnetic tape by proper storage and frequent cleaning and re-certifying.

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