Water Activated Tape

Plastic, Pressure-Sensitive Tape vs. Water-Activated Paper Tape

Better Packages

By: Better Packages on March 11th, 2016

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Boxes with Water Activated Tape

You want to make sure the items inside your shipping cartons are sent safely and arrive at the destination with no issues, so your customers are satisfied and your company’s costs are minimized.  To keep your items secure, you will need a versatile sealing solution so that the carton can withstand the rigors of the shipping process. When it comes to choosing between plastic, pressure sensitive tape (PST) and water activated paper tape (WAT), consider the possibility of theft, cost-effectiveness, climatic conditions and branding to determine which tape will be the best alternative for your application.

Pressure-Sensitive Tape and the Shipping Process

Plastic, pressure-sensitive tape consists of film and a tacky substance that adheres to a given surface when light pressure is applied. The tape is petroleum-based. It is generally applied with tape guns.

Theft: The inherent characteristics of PST make it easy to remove or to gain access to the carton by pushing down on it, without leaving a trace of entry. As a result of its lack of tamper-evidence, theft can be a shipping problem.

Cost-effectiveness: On a per foot basis, plastic PST is relatively inexpensive. However, as a practical matter, many people use several strips of tape to seal their cartons to try to ensure security or to create added strength. Once several strips of tape are added to the equation, the inexpensive feature of PST disappears.

Climatic Conditions: Plastic PST doesn’t perform well in varying environments including cold and hot temperatures, high humidity and dusty environments. These challenging situations make PST lose its seal. Further, dirt can get underneath the plastic tape and the integrity of the seal is compromised. 

Branding: Is branding important to your company? The carton that you ship your products in is the first experience your customers have with your company. It is difficult and expensive to print your logo or a message on plastic, PST. Your branding efforts are undermined if you are using several strips of tape to try to secure your carton, for they make your cartons make look sloppy.


Water-Activated Paper Tape and the Shipping Process

Water-activated paper tape is made primarily of white or natural color Kraft paper tape and starch-based adhesive. It’s usually available in various widths and thicknesses and may contain layers with fiberglass reinforcement. When the adhesive is activated with water, it penetrates the carton material and the tape forms a permanent bond with the carton. It is generally applied with a water-activated tape dispenser.


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

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Theft: Water-activated paper tape discourages theft because it is difficult to remove without leaving obvious signs of tampering. It literally bonds to the carton. Theft during the shipping process usually occurs because it is easy to do and difficult to get caught. With paper tape, easy, undetected entry is not possible.

Cost-effectiveness: On a per-foot basis, paper tape is often more expensive than plastic PST. However, since you only need one strip of tape to securely seal a carton, the per foot differential usually disappears as packers often use two to three strips of plastic PST. Companies derive additional cost savings from the lack of theft associated with WAT.

Climatic Conditions:  Paper tape performs well under the extreme conditions of cold, heat, light, humidity and dirt, maintaining its bonding properties and the carton’s seal.

Branding: Branding is a critical element for businesses growth. By using water-activated tape, a company is easily able to print its logo or a message right on the tape in either full color or black and white. This keeps your brand front and center when your carton arrives at your customer’s home or office.

Choosing the right tape for your carton sealing application is a critical piece of the customer satisfaction pie and for your corporate efficiency. The right tape can assure product safety, cost-effectiveness and can enhance your branding. In many instances, choosing the tape comes down to plastic, pressure sensitive tape or, water-activated paper tape. Think carefully about the pros and cons of each before making your all-important carton sealing decision.

A Guide For Tape Dispensing Performance Solutions

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.