Water Activated Tape

Are You Confident You are Using Right Packing Tape?

Better Packages

By: Better Packages on August 20th, 2018

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Are You Confident You Have the Right Packing Tape?

Is your company using the right packing tape? That may not be a question you’ve considered, but it should be. There are a number of reasons to think carefully about the packing tape you use, and potential financial consequences for making the wrong decision.

For example, using a type of tape that creates a strong seal and prevents a shipping carton from opening unexpectedly in transit can keep your products from being damaged and eliminate the time and expense of dealing with returns. In other words, it is a choice that can have a direct impact on our bottom line.

“There are a number of reasons to think carefully about the packing tape you use, and potential financial consequences for making the wrong decision.” TWEET THIS

Types of Packing Tape

There are two primary types of packing tape: plastic pressure-sensitive tape (PST) and water-activated tape (WAT).

PST is also referred to as poly tape, plastic tape, or simply packing tape. It is a clear, petroleum-based tape that has a pressure sensitive adhesive on the back of the film. It adheres to a surface based on the pressure applied as the strip is put in place. How well it adheres is based on several factors including:

  • the quality of the adhesive
  • how much pressure is applied;
  • how clean the surface is;
  • and what environmental conditions are encountered in the packing and shipping process. 

In today’s market, tape needs to work on recycled cartons and this presents a challenge for plastic tape. Recycled cartons have shorter fibers than new cartons, because recycled cartons have gone through the production process multiple times.  As a result, recycled cartons require more binders and adhesives to keep the fibers together. The shorter fibers and adhesive binders increase packaging failures and put your product and your profits at risk.

WAT is also be called gummed tape, reinforced gummed tape (when fiberglass is embedded), Kraft tape, or paper tape. It is made of white or natural color paper and starch-based adhesive. To become sticky, water must be applied to the back of the tape (typically using a water-activated tape dispenser) before it is applied, and this activates the adhesive.

When WAT is placed on the carton surface, the adhesive welds the tape to the surface of the box by penetrating the fibers and creating a permanent bond to the box. This happens with minimal pressure on new boxes as well as 100% recycled boxes and represents the most secure way to ensure your product makes it from point A to point B. A positive customer experience and your profit margin is preserved with WAT.

Strategies for Assessing Your Packing Tape

Before making your next packing tape purchase, it pays to assess your current tape to ensure that the product you select meets all your needs. Below are some questions to ask about the tape you are using today.

  • Does your tape create a strong seal? You want your tape to help protect the contents of a shipping carton and to deter thieves who are more likely to target a package with a questionable seal.
  • Does your tape create a tamper-evident seal? If a thief does gain access to the contents of a shipping carton, you want that fact to be clear when the recipient examines the package, so he or she can take prompt action to address the situation.
  • Is your packing process safe? How your team seals cartons for shipping is important.  Using plastic tape usually involves employing a hand-held tape gun.  These become very heavy with continued use, fatiguing employees and creating the possibility of repetitive stress injury. Repetitive motion injuries can result in medical claims and lost productivity.
  • Is your tape strong enough to hold up to even the heaviest shipments? The failure of any seal on a carton is problematic. The failure of a bottom seal can be catastrophic.
  • Does your tape maximize your ROI? If you need to use more strips of a less-effective tape, your “cost per shipped package” may be much higher than it ought to be.
  • Is your packing process efficient? The time it takes to prepare a carton for shipping is important. A few extra minutes here and there, struggling to get a proper seal, can quickly add up.
  • Can your tape increase brand awareness? Printing your logo, tagline, or other brand-building information on your packing tape can make more people aware of your organization and your offerings.

The answers to these questions will tell you if you need to consider switching to another type of tape. WAT meets all these criteria, making it a wise choice for any shipping operation.

Results from Independent Testing

While PST has its place in every business, WAT consistently scores higher in testing for adhesion, packing productivity, and tape integrity in different atmospheric conditions. This is according to independent research firm SGS North America and its independent testing of different types of tape.

If you have questions about our water-activated tape, water-activated tape dispensers, and other products as you assess your shipping tape, we’re happy to share our insights. Please contact us at your convenience.

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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.