Tape dispenser for 3-inch wide blue painter's tape. Improved Dec 24, 2013. Fully 3D printable without supports.
New improved version has base parts with holes for mounting screws and they clip over the bottom of the side parts (one near the front, one near the back) for sturdy mounting to a bench. The first photo shows the original version that had base parts with no holes (I drilled them to put screws through to the work bench) and relied on glue to bond them to the sides, but the force required to pull tape off the spool was too much and the glue joints kept failing. This revision fixes that by having the bases clamp over the horizontal members at the bottom of the sides. The blade still uses super glue to hold it in place -- more about the blade in the instructions.
A printable serrated blade can be found at
Second photo added 13MAR2014 showing the new bases that clamp over the bottom of the sides.
I printed in PLA with 0.25mm layers, 20% fill, 2 skins.
Print these files to make a complete set of parts:
2 each: 3inTD-Side.stl (Makes 1 Side)
1 each: 3inTD-Hub.stl (Makes 1 Hub)
1 each: BasesBlade&Pins.stl (Makes 2 Bases, 1 Blade & 2 Pins)
Or if you want to print the parts separately, these files are also supplied:
3inTD-BaseX2.stl (Makes 2 Bases)
3inTD-Base.stl (Makes 1 Base)
3inTD-Blade.stl (Makes 1 Blade)
3inTD-PinX2.stl (Makes 2 Pins)
SolidWorks Files Included:
The Blade has a beveled edge for cutting the tape. I sharpened the edge with a file and it works pretty well for cutting blue tape (see more about cutting the tape below). The blade is inserted and glued into the holes on the sides that have the same cross-section as the blade. A metal cutting edge could be added fairly easily if desired, but the PLA plastic sharpened with a file seems to be adequate as long as you get a good sharp edge on it. Ultimately, I made an aluminum blade from 1mm thick aluminum sheet, sharpened the edge, and stuck it on top of the plastic cutter part, attached with double-sided woven fiberglass carpet tape (available at hardware stores). It seems to work better than the PLA blade, as one might expect.
I used super glue to attach the plastic blade to the sides where it inserts into the holes. I also used super glue to attach the pins to the hub, leaving the heads of the pins out 5mm from the hub to allow clearance for the 5mm thick sides. I found that super glue doesn't hold PLA too well, but inserting a thin layer of tissue paper material (I used a paper towel) between the mating PLA part faces and saturating with super glue makes a fairly strong bond, but it can still come apart).
Use 4 each #4 x 3/4" wood screws through the countersunk holes in the two base parts to mount to the workbench or #4 or 3mm flat head machine screws and nuts for through-hole mounting.
You have to learn a new way of tearing the tape. If you just try to tear it off by pulling the tape down on the cutting edge the tape won't tear cleanly, or at all. This is because blue tape is essentially stretchy crepe paper with sticky on it, and pulling it straight down just stretches it (unless you have a very sharp, serrated metal edge). To tear the tape cleanly you must grab the tape near one edge and give it sort of a 90 degree twist down, so the tape edge where the tear starts gets all the force, rather than applying force to the entire width of the tape along the blade edge. Only then can you easily start the cut at that edge, and once it starts the rest of the tear is easy. It's harder to describe than to do it, but once you get the hang of it you can do it every time in one rapid motion. I went through a couple feet of tape before I figured out the method that works every time! If you make one of these dispensers you WILL figure it out sooner or later -- like I did.