Monday, May 4, 2009

What's so great about the ATG?

And why will I not just shut-up about it already!?

Hi, everyone! Welcome back to Life on the {Scrap}beach!

If you've been watching my videos or reading my blog for any length of time, you're sure to have heard me mention the 3M ATG 700. I would say that the most commonly asked question in the comments on my videos has got to be "What is the tape runner you use?", so I thought I'd just write all about it here in case anyone else was wondering. "ATG" stands for "adhesive transfer gun" and the gun is, very simply, a tape runner.

The ATG has been in use for many years in the framing industry. Professional framers use this gun to mount photographs in mats. The 3M 908 Gold, which is the adhesive I use in my ATG, is acid free and archival safe. The ATG has been trusted by professional framers and photographers for years and it has begun to filter into the scrapbooking industry.

The ATG is not a small investment to make. The gun itself is pricey, and while it it very light and easy to handle, it is also larger than any other tape runner on the market. Despite that, the ATG still holds a place in my Scrapbooking Top Three, and the only regret I have is that I didn't purchase it sooner. The adhesive comes off the roll easily and smoothly, is super strong and very economical. It will never get lost on your desk under a pile of supplies, and the adhesive refills are extremely easy to change -- the directions are even etched right into the gun's plastic.

When I first considered buying the ATG, I was thrown off by the price. I was sick and tired of constantly running out of adhesive, but the idea of paying $40.00 for a tape runner was tough to swallow. In the end, it was math that convinced me. I did a cost-benefit analysis for myself & I thought I would share it with you!

If you were to buy a 3M ATG 700 + 12 rolls of the 60yrd 3M 908 gold acid-free adhesive refills (that's 2160 feet of adhesive -- 0' from the dispenser and 2160' from the refills) from today it would cost $146.64 (includes $8.79 in S&H). That is $0.067 a foot.

If you were to buy a Tombow permanent adhesive dispenser from today and 9 of their six packs of adhesive refills (that's 2145 feet of adhesive -- 39' from the dispenser and 2106' from the refills), it would cost you $193.40 before S&H. That is $0.09 a foot.

The Tombow order from is $46.76 more expensive for 15 fewer feet of adhesive than the 3M order from That means that the ATG has already paid for itself with your first order!

Now, if you're like me and scrap often and with generous amounts of adhesive, that much tape will last you for about six months. Which means that before the year is out, you will need to place another adhesive order. This is what the cost breaks out to for the second order:

12 3M 60 yrd 908 Gold acid-free adhesive refills from $103.31 (includes $8.51 S&H) for 2160 feet of adhesive OR $0.047 a foot.

9 Tombow six pack 39' acid-free permanent adhesive refills from $187.11 (does not include S&H) for 2106 feet of adhesive OR $0.089 a foot.

Total costs for adhesive for the first year:
3M ATG: $249.95 for 4320 feet of adhesive (includes cost of gun and S&H)
Tombow: $380.51 for 4251 feet of adhesive (includes cost of dispenser but not S&H)

In the first year of ownership, the ATG would save you a total of $130.56 on adhesive -- that's three times the price of the ATG itself! It pays for itself immediately and it just keeps on saving you money after that.

Anyway, just something to think about. I'll try to stop talking about how amazing my ATG is, but I can't make any promises! I don't get any money for selling these guns -- I don't own stock in 3M or anything like that! I was just so frustrated by the cost of adhesive refills and the poor quality of the dispensers. I took a leap of faith on the ATG and I absolutely love it! I don't want any of my friends to be paying for high-cost, poor-quality adhesive ever again! The gun is sturdy, easy to use & never gets lost on my desk. The adhesive refills are archival safe, high quality and very economical. My ATG definitely deserves its place in my Scrapbooking Top Three.

Whatever you decide, happy scrapping & stay tuned for a blog post on how to alter an ATG once you own one! Another good thing about the ATG is that it's pretty easy to make it pretty!

Life's a beach. Scrapbook it.

P.S. I don't know if has still got the best price on the ATG these days. When I researched mine, they had the best price around for both the guns and the refills. I continue to buy from them because their customer service is amazing and their shipping is quick!

P.P.S. Don't forget to check out this post from National Scrapbooking Day and leave a comment before 9:00 Eastern Friday night to be entered to win the LOVE album.


  1. I ordered my ATG after your blog of your scraproom, I can't wait to get it and stop buying $2.72 refills. I'm looking forward to your instructions on how to "alter" it, it is quite ugly as
    Hope you had a great weekend.

  2. It is definitely ugly -- there's no doubt about that! I love my ATG, but even I couldn't deal with that terrible yellow.

    The instructions on painting & decorating an ATG will be posted in two parts. The first part is scheduled to post Tomorrow morning and the second part is scheduled to post Friday morning.

  3. whAT Do you think about :
    NEW!! 1/4" ATG APPLICATOR from ""??
    which one works best for scrapbooking needs?

    thanks :)

  4. The 3M ATG 714 (the gun mentioned in the comment above this one) is almost exactly the same as the 3M ATG 700 in terms of size and durability.

    These are the two biggest differences between them:1. The 3M ATG 714 takes only 1/4" wide tape. This is the width of tape most scrappers will be used to from other brands of tape runners like Tombow and Herma. The 3M ATG 700 takes 1/2" width tape (which is what I prefer) & 3/4" width tape right out the box and 1/4" tape with an adaptor (sold separately).
    2. The 3M ATG 714 is red. The 3M ATG 700 is yellow.

    I bought the 3M ATG 700 for its greater versatility. It had always been my plan to buy the 1/4" adaptor if I felt the need for a skinnier tape. I have had the gun for about two years now and have yet to buy the adaptor.

    The bottom line: the guns are so similar that it really comes down to what size tape you want to use.

    I hope that helps!

    Life's a beach. Scrapbook it.

  5. Wow-that was an incredibly informative post-thanks so much! It was just the information I needed. I just started researching the ATG and have heard nothing but great things about it, but your review with cost comparisons was above and beyond! Thanks for helping some of us who are on the fence-I just placed my order!


  6. I love my ATG. I found your blog searching for tape discounts. :) I've never done the math, but I'm happy to find out I've made a good decision. Thanks