Adhesive Tape

The Swiftpak guide to adhesive tapes for packaging

6 mins

Adhesive tape is one of the most crucial parts to a successful packaging solution. Choose the wrong tape and your package is unlikely to arrive in one piece. Pick the right taping solution and you’ll notice a much lower rate in damaged returns. It’s that simple.

However, choosing the correct tape for your packaging requirements can be tricky, and often needs the advice and guidance of an experienced packaging supplier. So, to help you choose the right taping solution for your requirements, here’s the Swiftpak guide to adhesive tapes.

But before we jump into which tapes are good for defeating certain challenges in packaging, let’s get a better understanding of what adhesive tape is and how it works.

What is adhesive tape?

Adhesive tapes are combination of backing material and an adhesive glue, used to bond or join objects together. This can include materials such as paper, plastic film, cloth, polypropylene and more, with a range of adhesive glues such as acrylic, hot melt and solvent.

Adhesive tape can be applied manually, with a handheld dispenser, or if suitable, with the use of an automated taping machine.

What makes adhesive tapes stick to packaging?

Adhesive tape performs two actions when sticking to a surface: cohesion and adhesion. Cohesion is the binding force between two similar materials and adhesion is the binding force between two completely different materials.

Adhesives contain pressure sensitive polymers that cause them to become sticky and are viscoelastic in nature. Meaning it behaves like both a solid and liquid. As soon as the adhesives are applied with pressure, it flows like a liquid, finding its way into any tiny gaps in the fibres of the surface. Once left alone, it turns back into a solid, allowing it to lock into those gaps to hold it in place.

This is why most adhesive tapes struggle to adhere to recycled cartons properly. With recycled cartons, the fibres have been chopped up and repulped. This results in smaller fibres that are packed tightly together, making it difficult for the tape’s adhesive to penetrate.

Now we’ve covered the basics on adhesive tape, let’s explore which tapes should be used for certain packaging requirements and why.

Acrylic, Hotmelt & Solvent adhesives

There are three types of adhesives available for tapes: Acrylic, Hotmelt and Solvent. Each of these adhesives hold different properties, making each adhesive suitable for different situations. Here’s a quick breakdown of each adhesive.

  • Acrylic – Good for general purpose packaging, low cost.
  • Hotmelt – Stronger and more stress resistant than Acrylic, slightly more costly.
  • Solvent – The strongest adhesive out of the three, suitable in extreme temperatures but most costly.

Polypropylene adhesive tape

The most commonly used adhesive tape. Polypropylene tape is usually coloured clear or brown and is relatively strong and durable. It’s perfect for everyday carton sealing, is quite cheap and more environmentally friendly than Vinyl tape.

Low noise Polypropylene tape

‘Low noise’ may seem like a strange concept at first. But for busy or confined packaging areas, constant noise can become irritating. Low noise Polypropylene tape can be used with an Acrylic adhesive for an impressive seal, resistant to temperatures as low as -20 degrees centigrade. If you’re looking for a secure, low noise adhesive tape for your packaging requirements, Acrylic Low Noise Polypropylene tape is for you.

Vinyl adhesive tape

Vinyl tape is stronger and more tear resistant than Polypropylene tape, meaning it can withstand more tension. It’s also a quitter solution to Polypropylene tape without the need of a special ‘low noise’ variant.

With standard and heavy-duty vinyl tape options available, you have the option to choose the most suited tape for your requirements. For an extremely tough and long-lasting seal that’s susceptible to humidity and temperature changes, heavy duty vinyl tape (60 micron) is perfect. For a slightly less extreme seal, choose standard vinyl tape (35 micron).

In short, where a strong seal is required for long distance shipping, Vinyl adhesive tape should be considered.

Gummed paper tape

Made from kraft paper, gummed paper tape is 100% biodegradable and requires water to activate the adhesive upon application. This creates a complete bond with the carton as the water-activated adhesives penetrate the liner of the carton. To put it straight, gummed paper tape becomes part of the box. An impressive seal!

On top of the high sealing capabilities, gummed paper tape creates a tamper-evident solution for your package. This is often utilised by the automotive and electronics industry due to the nature of the high value products.

Gummed paper tape is eco-friendly, strong and tamper evident. What more could you want from an adhesive tape? If you want to find out more about gummed paper tape, take a look at our complete guide for all you need to know.

Although gummed paper tape is a fantastic product, there are two tiny drawbacks. Firstly, a water activated dispenser is required for application, which can be expensive.

Additionally, because the adhesive requires water to activate upon application, worktops can become messy. So, to avoid the task of drying your workspace, consider Reinforced self-adhesive paper machine tape. This tape shares all the advantages that gummed paper tape has, doesn’t require water upon application, and is compatible with all taping machines. If this sounds like a tape you’re interested in, contact us today, we’re the UK’s first supplier!

Self-adhesive kraft tape

Like gummed paper tape, this tape is made from Kraft paper (obviously, it’s in the name). However, what makes this tape different is the adhesive is already active when released from the roll. Self-adhesive kraft tape is ideal for anyone wanting an eco-friendly paper tape for standard taping needs.

self-adhesive kraft paper tape

Choosing the right adhesive tape for your packaging

There’re a variety of different taping solutions available for your packaging. Whether you need a general-purpose tape or, a high strength, temperature resistant tape, there’s an adhesive tape option perfect for your business.

An important thing to note: even though tapes can be made using the same material, there can still be a difference in the quality and strength of the tape. For example, take a look at how our SupaTak tape compares with the market leading tape in our laboratory test. Yes, they’re technically the same material, but the difference in performance is… well, see for yourself.

If you need further assistance on which adhesive tape to use for your packaging requirements, contact us at Swiftpak today, we offer a huge range of tape and would love to help.