How to Select the Right Protective Tape for Your Sheet Metal

How to Select the Right Protective Tape for Your Sheet Metal

Published in Stainless Steel

The manufacturing process is rough. To go from a stainless-steel coil to a high-end final product requires demanding steps like bending, cutting, drilling, and stamping. Each one of these processes could result in dents and scratches.

That’s where protective tape comes in. You can protect your products during secondary processing by using the right protective tape for sheet metal.

Tape is often used to protect sheet metal during laser cutting.

Types of Tape for Sheet Metal

There are countless types of tape for sheet metal, from aluminum foil tape to butyl tape, but the top used in the industry are fiber laser tapes and standard PVC tapes. When it comes to fiber laser tapes, the two best brands are Novacel and Nitto.

Novacel Tape

Novacel offers a wide range of tapes that work with most types of machinery—including fiber laser cutters and CO2 laser cutters. They can protect all kinds of metal as well, such as stainless steel, aluminum, acrylic, and more.

With Novacel tape, you can store sheet metal outside for two to six months. And even after such a long time, you can remove the tape cleanly and easily. Novacel can even print your logo on protective films and tapes.

Nitto Tape

Nitto’s range of tapes is comparable to Novacel in quality, applications, and price. Nitto uses a strong, natural rubber adhesive, which provides greater adhesion than the acrylic adhesive used in aluminum foil tape and other types of foil tape. Plus, it uses break-resistant polyethylene film.

This brand of tape is suited for high-performance and high-speed laser cutters. In addition, it’s backed by a strong reputation in the industry, in contrast to Novacel, which is still fresh on the market.

Standard PVC Tape

PVC tape is an affordable and reliable option for stamping and shearing sheet metal. While it’s not ideal for laser cutting, it can still protect against gouges, scratches, and nicks during processing.

One drawback of PVC tape is that it’s not environmentally friendly, especially compared to fiber laser tape and aluminum tape. According to Greenpeace, PVC is the least recyclable plastic; only 0.5 percent of all PVC is recovered for recycling.

Applications of Sheet Metal Tapes

Applying adhesive tape to sheet metal protects the surface from damage due to abrasions or debris during the laser cutting process. It also keeps the metal safe during storage and transport.

Sheet metal tapes are useful for more than just laser cutting. They serve the same protective purpose when it comes to stamping, shearing, and other secondary processing.

While the goal of using tape during secondary processing is always safety and insulation, some properties of tape can help determine more specialized applications. For example, the more adhesion power a tape has, the better it works for heavier gauges of metal.

Recent Supply Chain Issues

Like other consumer goods, tape has been impacted by the global supply chain issues first caused by COVID-19 and then exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. Currently, this affects certain products more than others—namely, fiber laser tapes.

Novacel is currently the most popular brand of fiber laser tape, but it was hit harder by supply chain disruption. It can take four to six weeks to acquire Novacel tape for your stainless steel. In contrast, a wide range of Nitto tape is more readily available.

Diversified Specialty Metals is taking clear steps toward resolving the supply chain issues around fiber laser tape and navigating steel shortages. We work with you to recommend the best brands that are available and match up with your project timelines.

How to Select the Right Tape for You

To choose the right tape, you should consider the following elements: equipment, material, and finish.


Regular laser tape and fiber laser tape are both excellent choices for CO2 lasers and fiber optic lasers. Stampers, on the other hand, don’t require such expensive tape—PVC tapes work perfectly at a much lower cost.


When buying sheet metal, you need to understand the properties of your steel, especially thickness. For example, if you use Grey Nitto Fibre Laser tape on a heavier gauge metal, it could blow off during the laser cutting process. Black Nitto Fibre Laser is more adhesive and works better for heavy gauges.


Finally, the irregular surfaces of metal sheets affect adhesion and sealant ability. Some metals can be too smooth for certain adhesives. For instance, Novacel and Nitto both work well on No. 4 stainless steel finishes, but PVC tape can’t handle above No. 2B finishes.

What to Look for in Your Tape

For laser cutting and stamping alike, look for these additional features in your tape:

  • Strong adhesion

  • Flame resistance

  • Easy application and removal

  • Functional print

  • Rubber adhesive over acrylic adhesive

  • Strong sealant

  • Powerful insulation

Find the Right Tape Today

If you’re a laser shop operator, the best tape for you is going to be Novacel or Nitto. Their products are comparable in application, quality, and price, but you will have to wait longer for Novacel tape due to supply chain issues. For stampers and shearers, you can stick with standard PVC tape; it’s an affordable way to get the job done!

Still looking for the perfect tape for sheet metal? Contact Diversified Specialty Metals today to talk with its knowledgeable sales reps—they can help you find exactly what you need.

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