Metal particle videotapes were first introduced in the 1980s to be used with the 8mm video format.
Metal Particle Tape Types
There are two types of metal particle tapes – metal powder (MP) and metal evaporated (ME) tapes.
These tapes have a pure metal coating on the magnetic material of the tapes.
Uniformity of Metal Particle Shape
With a metal particle tape, there’s uniformity of magnetic particle shape.
This allows for a denser packing of particles on the tape’s magnetic material.
The benefit of this denser particle arrangement is higher video resolution during recording and tape playback.
Difference Between a Metal Powder and Metal Evaporated Tape
How is a metal evaporated tape different from a metal powder tape?
Metal Powder (MP) Tape
The metal powder (MP) tape has an alloy coating consisting of iron, nickel, and cobalt (Fe-Ni-Co).
The metal powder coating process involves adhesives being applied between the magnetic coating and the tape backing.
Metal powder tapes are the most common type of metal particle tape found in the market.
They are faster to manufacture. They’re also more durable than ME tapes (see below) and they aren’t susceptible to tape cracking.
The Metal Evaporated (ME) Tape Process
The metal evaporated tape employs a different coating process.
This process places the metallic surface on the tape substrate.
Thus metal evaporated tapes allow for recording at higher densities.
The disadvantage of the ME process is it takes a long time to evaporate the magnetic layer.
So, the production of ME tapes is lower than metal powder ( MP) tapes during a given time.
Also, the evaporated layer is brittle and may result in cracking.
Metal powder tapes don’t face the same cracking problem.
Metal Particle Tape vs Iron Oxide Tape
Before the metal particle tape was introduced, tapes had the iron or ferric oxide formulation.
In an iron oxide tape, the shape of magnetic particles isn’t as uniform or balanced as a metal particle tape.
Also in an iron oxide tape only about a third of the particles in the coating have magnetic properties.
The rest just act as special-purpose fillers.
On the other hand, all the particles in a metal tape are magnetic.
As such a metal particle tape has thrice the retentivity rate compared to an iron oxide tape.
What this means is with a metal particle tape more magnetic flux is left on the tape coating after the tape has passed through the head.
Metal Particle Tape for Sale
Although tape technology is becoming obsolete in these days of memory cards, metal particle tapes are still available for sale, especially for 8mm camcorders.
VCR Troubleshooting and Repair – Robert Brenner, Gregory Capelo