A problem we are experiencing ever increasingly with old U-matic tapes. The problem occurs because the video tapes have absorbed moisture over time. The tapes deteriorate because of a breakdown in the binder (the glue) that holds the oxide atoms on the tape. The binder contains polyurethane, which soaks up water and causes the urethane to rise to the tape's surface. This problem is known as the 'sticky-shed syndrome'. Short strands of urethane were most commonly used in tapes (until it was discovered that middle-sized strands are better) and were good at absorbing moisture.
Signs of U-matic Video Tape Deterioration
There are some important signs that show when a U-matic tape needs baking. The typical symptom is squealing when the tape passes the playback head or other fixed parts of a tape player. The squealing is audible directly from the tape and also transmitted electronically through the output of the tape player. Continuous use of a squealing tape risks permanently damaging the tape, as oxide is sometimes torn off the tape. This flaking residue can be seen and can feel gummy while still on the tape's surface. There is also a risk of damage to the player.
We offer an in house professional U-matic tape baking service. Drying out or baking the tape at a precise temperature for several hours safely restores the tape so that it can be transferred and digitized without being damaged. After baking, the tape usually remains in good condition for approximately a month. If the tape re-deteriorates, it may be possible to bake the tape again.
Video Tape Menu
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