Selecting parcel tape Filament packaging tape choosing selection  Selecting packing tape dispenser

Images credits:  Office Buy; Interplas; Photo Dictionary

 

Packaging tape is a type of adhesive tape purposed for general sealing, wrapping, enclosing, and bundling to prepare items for handling, storage, or shipping. Packaging tape and film is widely used to seal boxes, bottles, and other isolating storage units, but is only temporary.

 

Packaging Tape Operation

Packaging tape operation is consistent, despite the mechanism of adhesion. Packaging tapes are applied to the seams and joints of various storage receptacles to maintain a tolerance that keeps cargo within the restraint of the receptacle. Packaging tapes are common for sealing box seams in parcel delivery; sealing caps of bottles; tamper-proofing pill and food containers; the bundling of similarly-shaped items into one larger, more manageable footprint; and the enclosure of items in a protective film or liner. Tapes contrast by the materials of construction, as well as the type of adhesive employed.

 

Package tapes are often applied by the use of a dispenser, which eases the unraveling and cutting of the sticky adhesive. Production processes often automate packaging with the use of a carton sealer.  

Video credit: 3M Industrial Packaging via Youtube

 

Packaging Tape Production

Video credit: Science Channel via Youtube

 

Adhesive

  • Acrylic
Acrylic-based adhesives reach their maximum adhesion almost immediately upon application, have adequate resistance, require no preparation, and have good sheer and peel strength. 
  • Hot melt/heat activated
Heat-activated or heat bond adhesives become sticky or tacky when heat is applied. The adhesive will soften and become moldable, but will not melt. Supplemental heating allows repositioning or removal, and in some instances reuse.
  • Non-adhesive
Non-adhesive tapes, films, or laminates do not have an applied adhesive. These tapes are self-adhering and rely on a high coefficient of friction to remain adhered.
  • Pressure sensitive
Pressure sensitive adhesives (PSAs) or contact adhesives are aggressively and permanently tacky at room temperature in dry (solvent free) form. They adhere firmly to a variety of dissimilar surfaces upon contact, requiring only the application of finger or hand pressure. PSAs do not require water, solvent or heat activation in order to exert a strong adhesive force on materials such as paper, plastic, glass, wood, cement and metal. PSAs have a sufficiently cohesive holding and elastic nature so that despite their aggressive tackiness they can be manipulated by hand and removed from smooth surfaces without leaving a residue. This is the most common adhesive of electrical tapes and as such, is not usually specified on product packaging. 
  • Rubber
Adhesives with a rubber-based chemical structure have highly flexible bonds that are based on butadiene-styrene, butyl, polyisobutylene, or nitrile compounds.
  • Silicone
Silicone adhesives and sealants have a high degree of flexibility and very high temperature resistance (600°F). While available as a pressure sensitive application, some silicone adhesives may require ventilation, or UV or EB radiation to cure.
  • Water activated
Water-activated tapes are starch or glue adhesives on a reinforced paper carrier. The tape is moistened to initiate the bond, and dries to a hardened seal.

 

Carrier

  • Acrylic/acrylate
Acrylic films are plastic or thermoplastic resin films manufactured using polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) or polymethyl-2-methylpropanoate. PMMA resins are the result of polymerization of acrylic acid derivatives or other acrylate compounds such as esters of acrylic acid, methacrylic acid, acrylonitrile and their copolymers. Acrylic films have good optical properties (clarity) and are UV stable. Plexiglas® (Altofina Chemicals, Inc.) is a common acrylic sheet and film material.
  • Cloth
Cloth materials like cotton can be used as the carrier material to improve tensile strength, heat resistance, and electrical resistance.
  • Glass/fiberglass
These are similar to cloth carriers, but are reinforced with glass or fiberglass particles to enhance heat resistance to over 300° F.
  • Fluoropolymer
A fluoropolymer backing will provide excellent chemical resistance, as well as water and stain resilience. The inert nature of these types of carriers prevents items from sticking to the carrier. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) are common carriers for adhesive tapes.
  • Foam
Adhesive-coated polyolefin foams include an adhesive that is protected by a liner in the form of a tape, film or laminate.
  • Metal foil
Metal foil tapes offer high reflectivity and heat resistance. They commonly have aluminum, aluminum-reinforced, or lead backings.
  • PET/polyester
Polyethylene teraphthalate/polyester carriers have high resistance to solvents, and have good aging and clarity characteristics.
  • Paper
Paper backings are suitable for short-term packing solutions, as they are weak in construction 
  • Plastic/polymer
Adhesive-coated polyolefin foams include an adhesive that is protected by a liner in the form of a tape, film or laminate. 
  • Polyimide (e.g. Kapton®)
Polyimide film maintains excellent physical, mechanical, chemical and electrical properties over a wide range of physical environments. Kapton® tape is made of polyimide film and a heat-resistant, silicone adhesive. Kapton is a registered trademark of DuPont Teijin Films. Polyimide films are very useful substrates for the manufacture of flexible circuit materials. 
  • PVC/vinyl
By using a vinyl carrier, the packaging tape has enhanced biological and chemical invulnerability, as well as more flexible workability. PVC is also relatively cheap.
  • Rubber
Many rubber-backed tapes are self-adhering, and can create a water-tight bond. These tapes have high thermal stability and elastic deformation, but can be chemically susceptible.  
  • Silicone
These tapes will use a solid, silicone backing in the form of a tape, film, or laminate. They provide tight, void-free and moisture resistant electric insulation. This is optimal for splicing and stress cones.

 

Common Types of Packaging Tape/Film

 

Parcel tape, colloquially box tape or packing tape, is a simple, medium-strength tape designed for sealing corrugated fiberboard seams. It is widely used in package delivery and mail services, as well as general sealing and enclosing. Brown-colored and translucent tape is most common, but other designs with messages or patterns are manufactured. Adhesion is achieved by pressure sensitive or water-activated designs on a paper, polymer, or acrylic carrier.

Selecting water pressure parcel tape types

Image Credit: Transpack 

Filament tape (a.k.a strapping tape) is a high-strength, pressure adhesive type of packaging tape, and is most often used for bundling items, pallet stacking, and seam sealing. The carrier is frequently polyester or polypropylene and fiberglass, providing the capability to withhold several hundred pounds of pressure. Multiple pieces of tape in a cross-seam orientation can significantly increase box strength.

 Choose filament/strapping tape

Image credit: Sydney Packaging and Labels

Light-duty packaging tape is used for simple sealing and enclosing operations. It typically has a rubber resin, pressure sensitive, or acrylic adhesive. Easy to dispense and handle, some durability and strength have been sacrificed for a consumer-friendly design.

 Light duty sealing packaging tape

Image credit: 3M

Security packaging tape is applied to containers to provide a tamper-evident seal. This is common for medicinal and nutritional products. It is usually a secondary form of packaging.

Security tape

Image credit: Sydney Packaging and Labels

Wraps are self-adhering films that envelope items in a polymer layer. These are helpful for waterproofing and containment. The most common packaging wrap is shrink wrap, which provides a profile-clinging boundary when heat is applied to the wrap. 

Shrink wrap packaging

Image credit: Salesmaster Corp.

Corrosion inhibiting packaging films and wraps are coated with rust-inhibiting chemicals that migrate to packaged metal components. This helps prevent oxidation during long periods of transportation or disuse. These are easy solutions to rust prevention, and are non-toxic.

VCI wrap

Image credit: SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden

  

Packaging Tape Specifications

Tape Dimensions

For tapes, there are two important geometrical aspects to consider, width and thickness. Length is unimportant because this is determined by the user at the point of application.

  • Width is the measurement across predetermined edges of the tape. Tapes can be cut by the customer to smaller widths.

  • Thickness is the distance between the two, flattened surfaces of the tape (carrier and adhesive). It is usually expressed in mils or thousandths of an inch and is measured under pressure with a gauge.

Wraps are produced in rolls or large cuts, which are then resized or shrunk by the consumer.

 

Tape Features

  • Tensile strength is the maximum load the tape can withstand. Packaging tape strength ranges from a few ounces to hundreds of pounds, and is important for keeping items sealed.
  • Peel strength is the amount of force needed to separate two bonded surfaces.
  • Temperature resistance is the amount of heat the tape can be subjected to without compromising the tape's performance. Packaging tape typically does not have enhanced temperature properties, and packaging film has a molecular structure that aligns and tightens when heated.
  • Abrasion resistance is the level of scratch resistance and ruggedness of the tape.
  • Transparent products allow the transmission of light. A tape is rated as transparent if 10-point type can be read easily when the tape is applied directly over it.
  •            Once applied, products become permanently bonded to the substrate.
  • Weather resistant products are suitable for outdoor use and resistant to ultraviolet (UV) light, cold, heat, water or other weather conditions.

  • Safety film and tape products are used for flagging or as barricade tape. Reflective tapes are often used in safety applications. Multi-colored tapes can be used to differentiate seams 

Tape Standards

Federal mail organizations and private delivery services often dictate suitable types of packaging tape. Pressure sensitive, water adhesive, and rubber resin tapes that are brown or clear may be the only acceptable taping options. Confer with each shipping carrier.

 

ATSM has several edicts related to the manufacture of quality box sealing tapes and films. The U.S. Federal Government has internal regulations for the use of quality packing tapes and vinyls. The Pressure Sensitive Tape Council is a trade association that works with ATSM to establish North American quality guidelines for adhesive tapes, including packaging tape. ISO compiles quality standards through its series on adhesives.

 

Packaging Tape Applications

As stated, the most extensive use of packaging tape is mailing and shipping, as well as product sealing. These tapes are removable, and are recommended to be applied to box seams in an 'H' pattern. Packaging tape is also designed to provide visual indication when package has been tampered with, including attempts to tape over the original seal. Strapping tape is particularly useful for bundling pipes and tools. Individually wrapped foods, cigarettes, and even homes are commonly placed in shrink wrap to isolate the items from decay and/or water.

 Strapping tape on PVC plumbing Shrink wrap application damaged house

Images credits: FedEx; 3M; Pro Tech Shrink Wrap

 

Resources

 

Wikipedia - Box-sealing tape; Pressure sensitive tape; Shipping container

 

FedEx - Your Guide to Proper Shipping - Packaging, Shipping and Labeling Guidelines (.pdf)

 

Armor VCI Protective Packaging - Product Lines

 

Green Packaging, Inc. - Green VCI

 

3M U.S. - Packaging Tapes and Equipment


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