Fabric tapes are used in many areas of magnetic media (thin-film disk) preparation in the data storage industry: polishing, texturing, and lube buffing. Tapes are more commonly used than pads for such applications, partly because the continuous supply of new tape during operation provides improved uniformity in comparison to the inherent discontinuities involved in pad conditioning/use/conditioning/use. (Simple modeling shows tapes tend to produce more uniform material removal than pads, although this is not universally true.) An important quality issue (in addition to reproducibility, uniformity, and planarity) is contamination control. Contamination by particles will be even more important as slider flying heights are reduced. Molecular contaminants are also important because some species can lead to the loss of lubricant on areas of the disk. Ionic species adsorb water preferentially from the air and thus can accelerate corrosion. Steps taken to minimize fabric contamination include careful selection of starting materials, control of the processing environment and processing variables, and cleaning the fabrics before they are made into tapes. New tape materials are likely to give new operating options, as well as new quality control problems, and some of these are discussed.

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