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EducationDouble sided tape for holding specimens?

5th Dec 2019 00:41 UTCAli U.

Has anyone used double sided tape for holding specimens in place for storage.

This is a picture I took of an box that used double sided foam taped on the bottom.  I am holding that box at 45+ degrees and everything is stable.

I wanted to know if tape like this can hurt the specimens "chemically"? (These specimens are strong enough to be taped.)

(In this case my specimens are calcite)

(Also I stuck the tape to the carpet to make it loose some of its tackiness so that it also was not super strong)

5th Dec 2019 08:55 UTCJim MGlasson

The main problem with using tape and "tack" is a problem with heat. In the dry, hot Arizona climate the heat causes the volatile components of the organic compounds that make the material "sticky" to evaporate. When this happens the tape or tack will not adhere to anything. I have had Avery labels come off of perky and micromount boxes after one summer in the unairconditioned, but shaded place.

It would be a shame to have a bunch of specimens, especially more delicate things, damaged or destroyed because you thought that they were secure when you picked up the box. The slightest movement can cause some specimens to tip over, if not secured well.  They then damage other items in thee box.

I would still recommend the "fold-up" boxes that come on various sizes, are made of about 40 pound paper and are relatively inexpensive

The other option is to wrap the base of the specimen in a ring of toilet paper or paper towel (fold the towel to about 1 - 1.5 inches wide and wrap around the base of the specimen. then pack them tight in the box.  This is typically how field collectors get material back home.
Hope this helps.

5th Dec 2019 21:09 UTCEd Clopton Expert

Double-sided foam tape can leave residue on specimens and mounting surfaces that is difficult to remove.  I have used grey mounting putty with good success for years, but I don't live in a climate that subjects it to great heat, so I have not had the problems that Jim describes.  That putty, which I am told is made in Germany, sticks well to most surfaces but removes cleanly when required.

If a very secure, long-term hold is required, and the specimen will withstand soaking, a drop of white (Elmer's) glue will work.  Soaking in warm water will soften it so it can be scrubbed off.

The blue "Mineral Tack" of years ago turned out not to be stable over time, becoming either gummy and difficult to remove cleanly or hardening and releasing its hold.  It also left stains on porous surfaces (specimens or mounting surfaces).

Another good wrapping material is the very thin plastic film that grocery store produce bags or drycleaner bags are made of.  It is soft, can be crumpled up to provide cushioning, and it doesn't leave paper fibers on things.

6th Dec 2019 02:30 UTCEd Clopton Expert

I meant to add that thin tape on a flat surface requires a relatively flat surface on the specimen to bring enough of the specimen into contact with the adhesive to get a good hold.  Only a very small area of a ball-shaped specimen will touch the tape, and if it is very heavy, won't be held in place.  Foam tape is a little better in that it conforms slightly to irregular contours, bringing more adhesive into contact with the specimen.  Putty, on the other hand, can be made to conform to (and hold) highly irregular contours.
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