Packaging Tapes

The Facts on… Packaging Tapes

Most packaging tapes are used to seal boxes and packages, and of these, most are plastic tapes with a self-adhesive (pressure-sensitive) backing.

Packing tapes

Packing tapes are primarily used to seal carton joints but their uses within and beyond packaging are wide.

The majority of packing tapes are manufactured using an extruded polypropylene carrier, due to the relative cheapness of this base material, combined with a pressure-sensitive adhesive. Widely available as clear or buff coloured, polypropylene tapes are also available in a range of colours, particularly in the high-capacity rolls used on case taper systems.

Vinyl is a superior alternative to polypropylene as it is both stronger and more resistant to extremes of temperature, making it highly suitable for freezer and cold store environments, particularly when combined with solvent adhesive. Vinyl tapes are also manufactured in a wide range of colours.

A multipurpose tape with a crepe paper carrier and solvent adhesive, masking tape (as its name suggests) provides a highly effective barrier to aerosol paints in the vehicle bodywork industry, creating a clean edge, resistant to paints and solvent and leaving no residue on removal. It is also valuable as a low-tack, temporary packing tape or protective layer for intermediate protection of components during the production process.

Polypropylene packing tape reinforced with glass fibre filaments. Monoweave tape only uses reinforcement filaments laid parallel to the length of the tape, but crossweave tape has additional filaments running across the tape for greater burst resistance.

Also known as gummed paper tape this is manufactured from fully sustainable, 100% recyclable materials which present no landfill issues – natural kraft paper and starch-based adhesives. It is an ecologically-sound alternative to pressure-sensitive self-adhesive plastic tape, offering enhanced consignment security and presentation with cost savings.

Kraft paper tape coated with a pressure-sensitive self-adhesive layer and used for sealing cartons and packages, and for picture framing. Not to be confused with water activated (gummed) paper tape.

The more eco-friendly version of this product is called ECO-X and uses a biodegradable hotmelt adhesive.

Pressure-sensitive self-adhesive plastic tape manufactured in high-capacity roll format for use on case taper machines.

Some plastic and kraft paper packing tapes are manufactured with pre-printed standard advisory and warning messages such as ‘FRAGILE’ or ‘HANDLE WITH CARE’. These are a cost-effective means of alerting handling personnel to specific precautions that should be taken. Packing tapes may also be custom printed, often with the user’s logo or company name, or with a specific warning message.

Other tapes

A high-strength, tensilised polypropylene pressure-sensitive adhesive tape used as a lower-cost alternative to filament tape.

Banding tapes are used as a low-tension restraint for printed products, typical examples being for bundling banknotes and attaching supplements to magazine publications. Banding tapes may be made either of plastic or paper, coated with a hot melt layer that activates to create a seal.

Adhesive types


Permanently tacky, pressure-sensitive adhesives do not require heat, solvent or water to activate the adhesion, but remain in a semi-solid state.

Water-based formula resistant to discoloration caused by age and sunlight.

Water-based formula characterised by good initial tack and high shear-resistance.

Solvent-based formula characterised by aggressive adhesive properties and higher resistance to extremes of temperature.

Starch-based adhesive used on gummed paper tape, requiring water to activate and returning to a solid state when dry.

Tape composition

  • Backing

The base material used to create a tape. In the case of packing tape this is often polypropylene, vinyl or kraft paper. A wide selection of backing materials is used for technical tape, including aluminium foil, polycoated cloth and crepe paper. Most double sided tape has a backing that supports the adhesive coating. On some products this may even function as a barrier between two adhesives with different properties. The most commonly-used materials for backing are tissue paper, crepe paper, plastic film or foam and cloth. Transfer tapes have no backing but rely on the release liner for support until applied.

  • Carrier

Another term for tape backing, the carrier is the base material of a tape, coated with adhesive and sometimes fixed to a silicon release paper liner.

  • Liner

An additional layer used on some (particularly double-sided) pressure-sensitive tapes to separate the adhesive layer from the backing of the tape on the previous layer. Most pressure-sensitive tapes don’t require a liner as the adhesive and backing are formulated to only allow a temporary bond.

Tape terminology

  • Burst resistance

The ability of an adhesive tape to resist perpendicular forces on a parallel seam or join (compare with shear resistance and peel resistance). For example, packing tape with high burst resistance will give greater protection against the tape being perforated on the join between carton flaps. High burst resistance relies primarily on the strength of the tape material, although without a strong adhesive bond these forces are likely to dislodge the tape from the carton and compromise the seal.

Low-noise tape is pressure-sensitive packing tape with a slow-release adhesive that reduces unwinding noise, popular for use in confined or shared working areas where repetitive noise can be an irritation or distraction.

  • Peel resistance

The ability of an adhesive tape to resist oblique forces between two bonded layers (compare with shear resistance and burst resistance). For example, packing tape with high peel resistance will give greater protection against removal of the tape and is more likely to leave signs of damage if removal does occur. High peel resistance relies primarily on the strength of the adhesive bond.

  • Resealable

Semi-permanent self-adhesive substance that creates a bond between surfaces that may be broken and remade.

  • Shear resistance

The ability of an adhesive tape to resist parallel forces between two bonded layers (compare with peel resistance and burst resistance). For example, packing tape with high shear resistance will give greater protection against bursting due to underfilled or overfilled cartons. High shear resistance relies primarily on the strength of the tape adhesive.

  • Tack

Initial tack is the strength of an adhesive’s bond immediately following application. Some adhesives have a high initial tack, which is good for high speed packaging applications, but don’t allow for repositioning. Adhesives with a low initial tack may maintain low tack and are therefore repositionable, remove without damage or even may be reused. Some adhesives have a low initial tack to allow accurate positioning and a high long-term tack.

Pacplus® pressure-sensitive packaging tapes, hand and bench dispensers and Tegrabond® water activated tapes and dispensers are exclusive to Southgate® and their network of approved distributors throughout the UK and across Europe. For more details call 01553 69 29 69 or email

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