The shipping stream can be a very unforgiving environment. Every package faces a variety of forces in transit. If your company ships heavy items, those forces are amplified, which can increase the likelihood that a carton seal will fail.
To protect your items, you could use dozens of strips of plastic tape to keep the shipping carton flaps closed. Unfortunately, taking that approach decreases packing efficiency and increases costs. A better strategy is to use paper packing tape. If you aren’t familiar with this type of tape, you’ll want to learn more!
What is Paper Packing Tape?
Also known as water-activated tape (WAT), gummed tape, reinforced gummed tape (when fiberglass is embedded), or Kraft paper tape, paper packing tape is made of paper with a starch-based adhesive on the back. When the adhesive is activated with water and placed on a carton, it penetrates the surface, creating a strong, permanent bond.
Want to know more about the benefits of water-activated packaging tape? Check out this guide:
This unique sealing solution provides a number of benefits, including:
- Single-strip sealing. While it may take multiple strips of plastic pressure-sensitive tape (PST) to ensure that a package remains sealed until it reaches its destination, only one strip of paper packing tape is required in most instances.
- Eco-friendliness. Made primarily of paper and starch, WAT has much less of an environmental impact than petroleum-based PST.
- Efficient application. Paper packing tape is prepped and cut using a water-activated tape dispenser and applied by hand. This is much easier than manipulating a shipping carton so that it can be accessed using a handheld tape gun. In fact, an independent research study found that carton sealing productivity is 21% higher using WAT and a dispenser versus PST and a hand-held tape gun.
- Branding opportunities. Paper packing tape can be printed with your logo or other branding. Then, every carton you ship serves as a moving “billboard,” generating greater brand awareness as individuals see the package throughout transit.
Why is Paper Packing Tape Stronger than Plastic Tape?
Generally speaking, plastic is stronger than paper. So why is it that water-activated paper tape is stronger than plastic tape?
The key is the bond mentioned above. Plastic tape does its best to grip the top layer of the carton surface. But, if that surface is dirty, damp, or otherwise resistant to being gripped, the seal won’t be very effective.
The adhesive on paper packing tape goes deeper, causing the paper to fuse with the carton. Which means that the paper tape gets its tremendous strength and durability, to a large extent, from the boxes it’s sealing!
How much weight can WAT handle? That will vary based on the type of shipping carton, the grade of tape and void fill used, atmospheric conditions, and other factors. Check out our 7 Tips for Packing and Shipping Heavy Items for more detail.
However, according to independent testing, WAT creates a seal that is over 350% stronger than PST. In other words, it’s safe to say that WAT is a sealing solution that is hard to beat.
When is Paper Packing Tape Not the Right Fit?
Because of its variety of positive characteristics, there aren’t many situations where paper packing tape isn’t a good option. However, you might choose PST and a hand-held tape gun when mobility is a priority. While a manual WAT dispenser can certainly be taken “on the road,” it is better suited for use in a shipping department’s packing station.
When Strength Matters...
When the strength of a carton’s seal matters, you should consider paper packing tape. Learn more about why paper tape is the best choice for your business. And if you have questions about our water-activated tape, water-activated tape dispensers, and other products, contact us today!
Check out our new guide below to ensure that your business is using the proper shipping and packaging tape for your needs.