Water Activated Tape | Packing & Shipping Tips

How Does Water-Activated Tape Work?

Better Packages

By: Better Packages on August 1st, 2017

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Better Packages Water-Activated Tape FamilyWater-activated tape is often the best solution for your shipping department for increasing productivity, improving safety, and deterring theft. Not everyone is familiar with water-activated tape and therefore many people default to using plastic, pressure-sensitive plastic tape to seal their cartons. Here is some helpful information on water-activated tape.

What Is Water-Activated Tape?

Water-activated tape (WAT) is also known as gummed tape. It is made of paper with reinforced crossing synthetic fibers for its strength and a water-based chemical adhesive that bonds to the surface of the box. Water-activated tape can be made of plain Kraft paper best suited for light cartons or it can include several layers of paper and fiber reinforcement for heavy parcels. When water is applied to the adhesive, a capillary action adheres the tape to the carton, creating a permanent bond.

How Do You Use Water-Activated Tape?

Gummed tape is best used in conjunction with a water-activated tape dispenser which, in its most rudimentary form, wets and cuts the tape. More sophisticated dispensers automatically feed, moisten, and cut the tape to a pre-determined length. Packers then take the tape and apply it to the shipping carton.

READ MORE (+ BONUS VIDEO): How to Seal a Package with Water-Activated Tape

The Water-Activated Tape Advantage

Companies experience various benefits when they use water-activated tape to seal their cartons, including those listed below.

Greater Packer Productivity and Safety

A single strip of gummed tape is enough to securely seal a carton. In comparison, packers using plastic, pressure-sensitive tape with a hand-held tape gun often use several strips of tape to secure the carton. This slows down the packaging process and reduces overall productivity.

Independent research has shown that using water-activated tape dispensers can improve productivity by as much as 21% over tape guns. Additionally, the repetitive and strenuous nature of using a tape gun to seal boxes can cause your employees to develop repetitive stress injury. If this occurs, your business can experience significant medical expenses and employee absenteeism.

A Guide For Tape Dispensing Performance Solutions

A Better Bond for Protection Against Pilfering

Gummed tape creates a complete bond with the fibers of new or recycled corrugate providing a tamper-evident carton. Should someone try to remove the tape to gain access to the carton’s contents, the tape and the box will tear making it clearly apparent that it has been tampered with.

In the case of pressure-sensitive tape, the adhesive merely sits on top of the box. Thus, it’s easy to push down on the top of the carton. It creates an opening allowing someone to retrieve items and reseal the box with little to no evidence of what has happened. Here's an example of what this looks like.

Reinforce Your Boxes and Reinforce Your Branding

Not only does water-activated tape provide a more secure bond for your shipping cartons, it also provides an opportunity to keep your brands top-of-mind. Rather than pay the high cost of pre-printing your logo on various sized shipping cartons, you can have your logo, or any message, printed directly on gummed tape. Printed water-activated tape creates a clean and professional look to your cartons.


If you compare the cost of WAT to pressure-sensitive tape on a per linear foot basis, water-activated tape often has a higher price tag. However, that is an incomplete analysis. Packers frequently usually use 2 to 3 strips of plastic tape to try to seal cartons versus the single strip of WAT used to secure the top and bottom of a box. When you include into the equation the volume of material employed, using water-activated tape becomes the more economical solution.

Factor in the higher productivity, the reduced risk of repetitive strain injury in employees, less theft and pilfering, and fewer damaged cartons, and it becomes crystal clear that water-activated tape makes great business sense.

Better Packages | Water Activated Tape 

Better Packages offers a complete line of water-activated tape dispensers. Its parent company, Intertape Polymer Group, sells a full line of Central® water-activated tape, including reinforced and non-reinforced tape.

Is Your Shipping Tape Providing Optimal ROI?

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.