Grip Tape vs Non Slip Tape, is There a Difference?
Grip tape is the same as non slip tape, isn't it?
Put simply, yes and no! Modern skateboards have their origins in the late 1950s, when grip tape started appearing in the 1970s the most commonly available mineral in the US was silicon carbide (also known as carborundum tape). From the 1980s onwards throughout western industry aluminium oxide became more prevalent as an abrasive mineral and began replacing silicon carbide; it was more readily available, more quality consistent, had the same level of hardness and was cheaper. Grip tape can be produced with either, Heskins uses both minerals. Heskins non slip tape is only produced using aluminium oxide or S2 (a form of silica).
I have heard that silicon carbide is better and tougher?
Completely untrue. As mentioned above silicon carbide was the original grip material however from the 1980s onwards moves were made towards production using aluminium oxide. Mineral hardness is measured by the MOHS scale, both aluminium oxide and silicon carbide register the same mineral hardness, 9. 1 is talc and 10 being diamond. Silicon carbide retains its place in grip tape usage mainly as an 'old school' remnant, reminding boarders of its vintage 1970s roots, in performance there is little difference with aluminium oxide offering better quality output.
What about the adhesive?
Most grip tapes have a lower level of adhesion compared to non slip tape. A skateboard is an easy substrate to adhere onto, in the worst case it might have a lacquer coat. Non slip tapes might be applied onto extremely low energy substrates, the most difficult materials include PP, PUR and siliconised powder coat. Non slip tapes have to possess an adhesive capable of permanently and instantly bonding to these surfaces, this can only be achieved with modern, advanced and often application specific adhesives. The old system of simply applying a higher coat weight is no longer seen as an effective approach.
Is the base material different?
Grip tapes typically use a thin plastic film base. Anti slip tapes will normally use a thicker plastic film, Heskins use various thicknesses of plastic film dependent on the end application. Other plastics that are utilised by Heskins include: PET (provides extra strength and zero stretch tolerances), PE (full biodegradability), PP (can easily be hot welded instead of adhered), aluminium foil (formability and extreme flame retardancy) and PU (cushioning abilities but very expensive compared to other plastics).
Does the backing liner vary?
At last a simple answer, yes! Most grip tapes will use a thicker backing paper, the reason is unknown but is believed to be historical.
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