Masking Tape or Low Tack Paper

I have seen a lot of back and forth about types of masking tape and tack paper that people use to protect the wood during engraving.
We purchased a large roll of some tack paper, and I am not sure if it is the type of adhesive glue or what, but it emits some terrible smells when we are using it on a project while it is engraving (it is the worst when it is cutting through it).

Has anyone found anything less caustic, our is bad enough that we usually have to leave the room. We have added an inline duct fan to our glowforge and run a small air filter and that helped a little, but I don’t think we will ever get to the point that we don’t have any fumes escaping, so it seems like the best approach at this point would be to find a tape that isn’t so terrible.

I would be happy to receive any recommendations, there has to be a tape out there that is low VOC, or not so toxic when combusted.

Can you tell us what brand and type you are using now that smells so bad?

I use this:

As far as I can tell, I don’t smell anything that could be identified as the paper itself. Is the transfer paper you are using paper? It needs to be paper masking.

I’ve never heard of “tack paper”. There is low-tack and high-tack transfer tape and masking tape. Then there is Contact Paper, sold as shelf-liner and wall-paper, which are generally PVC-based.

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I would stop using that until you confirm it does not contain pvc. Have you researched the material safety data sheet on it? When I google tack paper I see a lot of pvc shelf liners and stuff like that. Absolutely do not use pvc in your laser.

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Thanks, sorry forgot to add that important detail.
This is what we are using i can’t figure out what type of adhesive glue it is though.

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Do you know what type of adhesive this PerfecTear is? I am trying to figure out what sort of adhesive produces the least nasty stuff to breath in. A lot of transfer tapes I have seen don’t say what sort of adhesive they use, which is a bummer

thanks, it is a transfer tape, but I am not sure if there is PVC in it, the listing doesn’t have an MSDS sheet, but when i find MSDS sheets for other products they usually say unknown under the combustion section, or just that the product isn’t intended for combustion… So frustrating to not know what products are “safe”, thanks for the tip to avoid PVC materials at all cost !

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thanks, it is actually transfer paper (i think i was confused about it being low or medium tack). I am trying to figure out what sort of adhesive emits the least fumes and has the lowest environmental/occupational health risks for inhalation. It seems like the options are usually rubber or acrylic based adhesives.

I have heard if the rubber adhesive has chlorine in it, this can be really bad to breathe though it seems like many don’t say what their rubber composition in

then some are acrylic based, which seems generally safer since this acrylic can be laser safe, though i am not sure about the details of acrylic based adhesives.

This has come up before in the forum. I’ll just link you to this one. I know mine is laser safe, I’ve been using it for almost 2 years. Tape covering of material to be cut/engraved

This one has the info under specifications:

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The only transfer-paper manufacturer that ever gave me a solid official answer regarding laser-safety was TransferRite, whose 582U and the 592U (medium- and high- tac) are specifically marketed as “laser-safe”. They use acrylic-based adhesives.
The only rubber I have cut in the GF was “laser-safe stamp rubber”, and by golly it smelled terrible.


Thanks, I was recommended 582U transferrite by a sign company, but couldn’t find out the adhesive base, maybe that is a good one to try.

agreed on rubber, we used a laser safe “low odor” rubber to make a stamp and i would hate to find out what the normal odor rubber was like, because the low odor variant was just terribly stinky !!!

Thanks ! This is helpful

There is info online (as well as on this forum) how you can test a piece to see if it contains chlorine. I believe they put a piece of it on a copper wire and burn it with a torch. If you get a green flame it contains chlorine and must be avoided. Double check that info though I am going from memory and anybody who knows me will tell you that is not one of my strengths.

for stamps, check out the art laser clear polymer stamp material from Jackson Marking Products. It doesn’t make a mess or stink like the grey or the orange stamp rubber.

@cynd11 has a link and nice tutorial here: Art Laser Polymer Stamps How To


Thanks Ill have to check that out if we end up with a tape that has a rubber adhesive, ill check through the forum but this is good to know that there is a way to check this!

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Thanks !! I thought we would never make a stamp again after our stamp experience. Ill be sure to check that out next time we need to make a stamp. I appreciate the sharing of this learning knowledge so we don’t all have to go through the same process, tons of community knowledge here

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If you have odor while cutting your exhaust run is leaking. There should be zero smell until you open the machine. It took me quite a while to nail mine, but worth the effort!

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Any recommendations for checking this out and finding/fixing leaks. We upgraded our vent hose to something more durable and that didn’t help, the inline duct fan helped a bit but it seems like no matter what we do there is a lot of odor coming out…I would greatly appreciate any suggestions

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One tip is for placement of the booster fan. If the booster is at the machine, then the exhaust run to the exit is pressurized. If the booster is at the building exit then the run is under negative pressure - meaning any leak in the run is sucking air in. Make sense?

I have an extended run of over 40 feet, and I used standard 4" metal duct, I needed two boosters for that, and every seam and joint in the venting (including the booster housing itself) needed to be sealed. The best/easiest method I found for that was caulking.

Keep after it, when you get there your working environment is greatly enhanced. :wink:

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