Everything You Need to Know About Tape

Companies who are working with packaging tape must choose the proper style and strength when deciding how to seal their cartons and boxes.

The wrong tape choice can drastically affect your packaging line by slowing down production and causing a decrease in efficiency, which eventually will cost you time and money.

Some Common Terms Used to Describe Tape Are:

Tensile Strength - Measures the force required to pull something to the point of breaking.
Adhesive Material – Material of the binding agent. Must be carefully considered depending on how you package and ship products.
Backing Material- Material that the adhesive is applied to. Common tape backing materials are vinyl, cloth, and polypropylene.
Elongation- How far tape stretchs before breaking. Commonly measured as a percentage of stretch and tensile strength in pounds.
Core Size- The inside roll diameter of a tape.
Length- The length of the tape on the roll. Commonly measured in meters, yards, or feet.
Width- The width of tape on the roll. Commonly measured in millimeters or inches.
Thickness- How thick a tape is. Commonly measured in mils (milli-inch), which is one-thousandths of an inch or 25.4 microns.

Adhesive Material


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 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.


Adhesives with a rubber-based chemical structure have highly flexible bonds that are based on butadiene-styrene, butyl, polyisobutylene, or nitrile compounds.


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.

backing Material


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 materials like cotton can be used as the carrier material to improve tensile strength, heat resistance, and electrical resistance.


These are similar to cloth carriers, but are reinforced with glass or fiberglass particles to enhance heat resistance to over 300 degrees fahrenheit.


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.


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.


Polyethylene teraphthalate/polyester carriers have high resistance to solvents and have good aging and clarity characteristics.


Paper backings are suitable for short-term packing solutions, as they are weak in construction.


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.


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.


Many rubber-backed tapes are self-adhering and can create a water-tight bond. These tapes have high thermal stability and elastic deformation, but they can be chemically susceptible.


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.