DCF Tape is pretty simple to make yourself! Whether you want to do it to save money, save resources, or just for the joy of making, there are only a couple things you need to know.
First off, there’s the fabric choice. The predominant choice for DCF tape is the .51oz/y^2 version, since it is thin enough to flex easily around edges and corners if necessary. However, if you’re making your own, you can choose for yourself if you want thicker or thinner! At the time of writing, there is a pretty good DCF fabric shortage, so maybe you just need to make tape out of whatever you can get your hands on!
I bought my DCF on a roll to make things easier and to ensure there are no creases, but it costs extra to have it put on a roll if ordering through Ripstop by the Roll (and it makes shipping more expensive). This isn’t necessary, cut and folded is fine.
The next, trickier decision is the adhesive choice. Many adhesives aren’t meant to be used on low-friction surfaces, so finding the right one for DCF isn’t as simple as going to the local hardware store.
3M has specially formulated their 9485 Transfer Tape to work well on low surface energy materials, briefly explained here. I’ve found these distributors for 1″ wide rolls of this:
Digikey: 9485 1″ x 60yards
Extremetextil: 9485 20mm x 55m
You can also use some special liquid adhesives for extra strong bonds, but that doesn’t lend itself to tapes, so it is outside the scope of this post.
Additional info: https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/dcf-seam-strength-test/
If using this tape for stuff sacks, there is a chance it may fail at extremely low temperatures. Read the above link for more information.
Making the tape is about as easy as you can imagine, just make sure you’re lined up properly on the DCF lines. Carefully place down the transfer tape about 6″ at a time, then cut it once you get to the end!
It’s really simple, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Be careful while applying the transfer tape, since it will stick instantly and won’t come off. I’ve messed up a couple strips of tape because I accidentally touched the fabric while repositioning myself. Practice makes perfect! While cutting the fabric, it works best with sharp scissors gliding along the fabric, rather than ‘chomping’ with the scissors.
Buying a half yard of 54″wide DCF should allow you to make 16 x 1″ wide sections. If each section is 54″ long, this comes out to 72 feet of tape, or 24 yards.
Buying a half yard of (.51) fabric from Ripstop by the Roll (currently) costs $17, and I’ll add $5 shipping onto that, or $22 total. That gives us $0.92/yard for the fabric.
If buying the digikey tape roll, at $52 for the tape and $5 shipping, that gives us $0.96/yard for the tape.
Together, that makes $1.88/yard for 24 yards of DCF tape, with an upfront cost of $74. However, you also have 46 yards of adhesive tape left over, which you can use for other DCF bonding projects.
Comparatively, there are a couple companies that make pre-made DCF tape. Duchwaregear has $4.00/yard (continuous) tape, or MLD has $3.50/yard (in 2 yard sections) tape.
As such, you can get 18.5 yards of DCF tape from dutchwaregear for the same price, or 20 yards from MLD.
In the end, making your own DCF tape is relatively easy and fun!
- Can make tape whatever width you want!
- End up with loads of extra DCF adhesive, which you can use on other projects
- Cheaper if needing large quantities
- It is fun and rewarding!
- $74 upfront cost
- Extra work
- Possibility of mistakes
I hope this little post has helped anyone looking to make their own DCF tape! Let me know if there are any questions!