Carton Sealing Solutions

2 Key Questions to Consider When Deciding Between Pressure-Sensitive And Water-Activated Packaging Tape

[fa icon="calendar"] Jun 3, 2019 10:07:00 AM / by Better Packages

Better Packages

Water Activated Packaging TapeMany companies are making the switch from plastic, pressure-sensitive tape (PST) to water activated packaging tape (WAT) to obtain a more reliable carton sealing solution. These companies realize that in order to keep the contents of their packages secure, they need a carton seal that can withstand the rigors of the shipping process. 

This article will discuss how you can gain the upper hand in the shipping game by discussing, in a Q&A format, the reasons why plastic packaging tape falls short in comparison to water-activated tape.

Q: Which Packaging Tape Will Visibly Show If My Package Was Breached?

A:  Water-activated paper tape is tamper-evident. It creates a permanent bond with the corrugated carton, and, as a result, it is readily apparent if anyone tries to remove or break the tape. This makes your products more secure throughout the shipping voyage. Conversely, the inherent “pressure sensitive” characteristic of PST makes it easy to remove or to gain access to the carton by pushing down on it, without leaving a trace of entry. This clearly makes theft a possible shipping problem.

Q: Our Company Wants to Increase Productivity. Which Packaging Tape Should We Use?

A: Plastic, pressure-sensitive tape (PST) is typically used with a hand-held tape gun. Water-activated packaging tape needs to be used with a water-activated tape dispenser. Dispensers, available in both electric and non-electric varieties, wet and cut the tape, often to a pre-programmed length of the operator’s choosing.

On the plus side, because hand-held tape guns are inexpensive, businesses often have several throughout their facility, making it productive for packers to seal cartons “on-the-fly”. However, you need to look at a few other factors to obtain a more complete view of hand-held tape gun productivity.


Want to know more about the benefits of water-activated packaging tape? Check out this guide:

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In an effort to ensure secure carton closure using plastic tape, packers often use 2-3 strips of tape on the carton, diminishing productivity. Another productivity-sapping factor is the challenge of the plastic tape tearing and the hard-to-find starting point of the tape roll. Tape is not only wasted, but the packer has to invest precious time into finding the starting point of the tape, rather than sealing cartons.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the tape guns become heavy and awkward to use in higher volume situations, fatiguing and slowing down the packer. Sometimes this can lead to repetitive motion injury. If a worker develops a repetitive motion injury, the business risks productivity issues, such as worker leave of absence or hiring and training new employees That’s a hefty amount of productivity risk to take on due to a seemingly simple choice of packaging tape!

In contrast, water-activated packaging tape has many positive productivity characteristics. This type of carton sealing tape is dispensed easily and quickly from the water-activated tape dispenser. Only one strip of tape is needed to securely close any side of the carton, enhancing productivity. There is no physical stress that results from using the dispenser, so workers tire less and are able to be more productive than when using a hand-held tape gun for pressure-sensitive tape application.

A downside to consider when choosing WAT for your packages may sound silly but does have the potential for efficiency issues. Water-activated tape can be sticky due to the glue getting on the packer’s hands. Luckily, this can be quickly overcome with a simple solution that can be taught when training employees. Overcome sticky challenges by grabbing the dispensed tape on the sides, laying it on the carton and firmly pressing down to create the tape’s bond.

Bolstering the case for water-activated tape is a recent study that compared carton sealing productivity over an 8-hour work day using water-activated tape versus plastic, pressure sensitive tape. The study demonstrated that carton-sealing productivity is 21% higher using a water activated tape dispenser and WAT versus a hand-held tape gun with PST. Click here to see the full results of the test. 


Check out the guide below to see if you're losing money on shipping tape and what the best solutions are to help you save some of that money. 

A Guide For Tape Dispensing Performance Solutions

Topics: Water Activated Tape, Safety

Better Packages

Written by Better Packages

Founded in 1917, Better Packages is a leading manufacturer of tabletop water-activated tape (WAT) dispensers used in carton sealing. Better Packages’ product line includes auto-dispensing electric machines that are used in high volume fulfillment centers, as well as manual dispensers. In the U.S., Better Packages sells through multiple channels that include industrial and packaging distributors and catalog wholesalers, as well as direct to end-user customers. Its distribution network consists of over 160 authorized distributors including Tier 1 shipping and packaging. Better Packages also has another 50 international distributors that service over 70 countries. Better Packages is a wholly owned subsidiary of Intertape Polymer Group (IPG), an acknowledged leader in the packaging industry. IPG sells a full line of Central® water-activated tape, as well as many other premier packaging products.