Water Activated Tape | Safety | Tape Dispensers | Corrugated Cartons

An Independent Evaluation of Water-Activated Tape

Better Packages

By: Better Packages on November 10th, 2017

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E-commerce shippers wanting to seal cartons quicker, more economically and securely want to use water-activated tape (WAT).  These are the conclusions of an independent test by SGS North America (SGS).  SGS is an industry-leading testing and verification company.  Intertape Polymer Group (IPG)and its brand, Better Packages, commissioned the tests to help customers compare the carton sealing performance of water-activated tape (WAT) and plastic, pressure sensitive tape (PST).

Here are the study findings: 

Productivity - This test compared the number of cartons sealed in a six-hour work day using water-activated tape versus pressure-sensitive tape.  The test showed that carton sealing productivity was 21 percent higher using a water-activated tape dispenser and WAT compared with using a hand-held tape gun with PST.

Carton Sealing Material Used – This test compared the relative amount of WAT vs PST used to seal cartons.  When the tests were completed, the average amount of tape needed to seal a single carton using water-activated tape was eight percent less than using pressure-sensitive tape.

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Tape Integrity Testing – The tape integrity test examined how water-activated tape versus pressure-sensitive tape withstood a consistent force under a variety of atmospheric conditions. The researchers sealed cartons with both kinds of tape.  They used an Instron testing machine to apply consistent, compressive force and measured how much pressure would be needed to do one of three things: 1) open the carton along the seal (2) tear the tape or (3) break the carton.

Cartons sealed with WAT took 60 pounds of pressure to cause the cartons to break while cartons sealed with PST broke after only 16.8 pounds of pressure.  Testers noted that level of pressure is easily employed by the average person. They concluded that pressure-sensitive tape “…cannot secure the carton integrity or prevent the package (and its contents) from incursion”.

Adhesion Testing – This test compared how well water-activated tape and pressure-sensitive tape adhere to cartons after setting for five seconds and also for 24 hours.  The testers sealed four cartons with both types of tape.  In one test they removed the tape by hand after five seconds and noted how much of the cardboard was removed.  In the second test, they measured the adhesion after 24 hours.  These were pass/fail tests assessing “tackiness” or bonding, which is a key component of carton tamper-evidence and security. 

Researchers concluded: “Water-activated tape has a strong adhesiveness to the cardboard carton surface while pressure-sensitive tape does not.”  Their results are summarized below.

Adhesiveness Test Results

Tape Set Time # of Cartons Tested Water-Activated Tape Pressure-Sensitive Tape
 5 seconds 4 PASS - Pronounced Tackiness FAIL - Insufficient Tackiness
24 hours 4 PASS - Tape Removal Causes Paper Failures on  Carton in Over 80% of the Tested Area FAIL - The Tape is Removed Easily, Capturing Just Some Cardboard Fibers


After the testing was completed, the researchers at SGS summarized their findings by stating, “These test results are significant and should lead water-activated tape to be the proper, best method in virtually all carton sealing applications.”

For a complete copy of the SGS report click here.

Learn more about tape dispensing packaging solutions. 

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About 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.