Tape come in various lengths, widths, and thicknesses, colors and adhesive systems.  For the purposes of this discussion we will focus on Carton Sealing Tape and various specialty tapes.


Carton Sealing Tape is a pressure-sensitive tape used for closing or sealing corrugated fiber board boxes. It consists of a pressure-sensitive adhesive coated onto a backing material which is usually a polypropylene or polyester film which is oriented to have strength in both the long (machine) direction and the cross direction.

Carton sealing tapes are a packing tape used in a variety of environments and require characteristics to suit the application. The film carrier may be polypropylene, PVC; or it may be paper. Carton sealing packing tapes may have an acrylic, hot melt rubber, or natural rubber adhesive system; and the typical film backing may be clear, tan, or any number of colors, in the case of PVC.  Carton sealing tapes are typically 55 yards or 110 yard rolls. Machine length rolls can range from 1000-2000 yards in length. Also, the width may be 2, 3, 4 or 6 inches. All of these sizes are available in metric form that is roughly equivalent.  These packing tapes are offered in many different thicknesses. Economy tapes may be less than 1.5 mils thick while heavy duty carton sealing tapes are over 3 mils thick.


Carton sealing tapes are generally used for packing and sealing boxes. Corrugated cardboard boxes sealed with the proper carton sealing tape maintain their integrity and hold their contents securely. Since carton sealing tapes are used for sealing boxes, the adhesive system, backing strength and other physical properties must perform to the required task. Consequently, there are many grades and varieties of carton sealing tape. Recycled corrugated cardboard may require an altogether different carton sealing tape than cardboard that is not recycled. 

The tape is most often used as a closure for regular slotted containers (RSCs). A “single strip” or “center seam” closure is applied over the center seams of a box extending 50–75 mm (2–3 inches) onto the end panels.

The tape can be used as a “six-strip” closure or “H-seal” by applying cross strips on the ends of the box. This is used when a relatively weak tape is used or when extra box reinforcement is needed. This method also seals the box to help keep contaminants out.


Carton sealing tapes have three principal adhesive systems:

The backing is typically clear (sometimes the customer prefers tan) biaxially oriented polypropylene (“BOPP”) film, but some paper tapes are used for carton sealing.



Acrylic/AcrylateAcrylic films are plastic or thermoplastic resin films manufactured using polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) or polymethyl-2-methylpropanoate. PMMA resins are the result of polymerization of acrylic acid derivatives or other acrylate compounds such as esters of acrylic acid, methacrylic acid, acrylonitrile and their copolymers. Acrylic films have good optical properties (clarity) and are UV stable. Plexiglas® (Altofina Chemicals, Inc.) is a common acrylic sheet and film material.
ClothCloth materials like cotton can be used as the carrier material to improve tensile strength, heat resistance, and electrical resistance.
Glass/fiberglassThese are similar to cloth carriers, but are reinforced with glass or fiberglass particles to enhance heat resistance to over 300° F.
FluoropolymerA fluoropolymer backing will provide excellent chemical resistance, as well as water and stain resilience. The inert nature of these types of carriers prevents items from sticking to the carrier. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) are common carriers for adhesive tapes.
FoamAdhesive-coated polyolefin foams include an adhesive that is protected by a liner in the form of a tape, film or laminate.
Metal foilMetal foil tapes offer high reflectivity and heat resistance. They commonly have aluminum, aluminum-reinforced, or lead backings.
PET/polyesterPolyethylene terephthalate/polyester carriers have high resistance to solvents and have good aging and clarity characteristics.
PaperPaper backings are suitable for short-term packing solutions, as they are weak in construction 
Plastic/polymerAdhesive-coated polyolefin foams include an adhesive that is protected by a liner in the form of a tape, film or laminate. 
Polyimide (e.g. Kapton®)Polyimide film maintains excellent physical, mechanical, chemical and electrical properties over a wide range of physical environments. Kapton® tape is made of polyimide film and a heat-resistant, silicone adhesive. Kapton is a registered trademark of DuPont Teijin Films. Polyimide films are very useful substrates for the manufacture of flexible circuit materials. 
PVC/vinylBy using a vinyl carrier, the packaging tape has enhanced biological and chemical invulnerability, as well as more flexible workability. PVC is also relatively cheap.
RubberMany rubber-backed tapes are self-adhering and can create a water-tight bond. These tapes have high thermal stability and elastic deformation, but can be chemically susceptible
SiliconeThese tapes will use a solid, silicone backing in the form of a tape, film, or laminate. They provide tight, void-free and moisture resistant electric insulation. This is optimal for splicing and stress cones.
Water ActivatedWater-activated tapes are starch or glue adhesives on a reinforced paper carrier. The tape is moistened to initiate the bond and dries to a hardened seal.


 Common Types of Packaging Tape/Film

 Parcel tape, colloquially box tape or packing tape, is a simple, medium-strength tape designed for sealing corrugated fiberboard seams. It is widely used in package delivery and mail services, as well as general sealing and enclosing. Brown-colored and translucent tape is most common, but other designs with messages or patterns are manufactured. Adhesion is achieved by pressure sensitive or water-activated designs on a paper, polymer, or acrylic carrier. 
Filament Tape: (a.k.a strapping tape) Is a high-strength, pressure adhesive type of packaging tape, and is most often used for bundling items, pallet stacking, and seam sealing. The carrier is frequently polyester or polypropylene and fiberglass, providing the capability to withhold several hundred pounds of pressure. Multiple pieces of tape in a cross-seam orientation can significantly increase box strength. 
Light-Duty: Packaging tape is used for simple sealing and enclosing operations. It typically has a rubber resin, pressure sensitive, or acrylic adhesive. Easy to dispense and handle, some durability and strength have been sacrificed for a consumer-friendly design. 
Security: Packaging tape is applied to containers to provide a tamper-evident seal. This is common for medicinal and nutritional products. It is usually a secondary form of packaging. 
Corrosion Inhibiting: packaging films and wraps are coated with rust-inhibiting chemicals that migrate to packaged metal components. This helps prevent oxidation during long periods of transportation or disuse. These are easy solutions to rust prevention and are non-toxic. 


 Tape Dimensions

For tapes, there are two important geometrical aspects to consider, width and thickness. Length is unimportant because this is determined by the user at the point of application.

Tape Features

Tape Standards

 Federal mail organizations and private delivery services often dictate suitable types of packaging tape. Pressure sensitive, water adhesive, and rubber resin tapes that are brown or clear may be the only acceptable taping options. Confer with each shipping carrier.

ATSM has several standards related to the manufacture of quality box sealing tapes and films. The U.S. Federal Government has internal regulations for the use of quality packing tapes and vinyl’s. The Pressure Sensitive Tape Council is a trade association that works with ATSM to establish North American quality guidelines for adhesive tapes, including packaging tape. ISO compiles quality standards through its series on adhesives.


Packing Tape Applications

As stated, the most extensive use of packaging tape is mailing and shipping, as well as product sealing. These tapes are removable and are recommended to be applied to box seams in an ‘H’ pattern. Packaging tape is also designed to provide visual indication when package has been tampered with, including attempts to tape over the original seal. Strapping tape is particularly useful for bundling pipes and tools. Individually wrapped foods, cigarettes, and even homes are commonly placed in shrink wrap to isolate the items from decay and/or water.


 Choosing the correct packaging tape for your application is essential to the presentation, protection, and security of your product.  The diagram below will help you to understand which tape application is best for your packaging needs:



 Hot melt packaging tape has a higher adhesive character, making it ideal boxes with high amounts of recycled content.

Hot melt tapes exhibit significantly better adhesive properties when compared to an acrylic packaging tape. They possess superior holding power and tensile strength with a quick tack. A hot melt tape is ideal for applications involving machine applied tapes, overstuffed boxes, or those with a high degree of recycled content. They perform well in temperatures ranging from 45*F to 120*F.


Acrylic packaging tape is ideal for long-term storage because it resists yellowing because of oxidation.  Acrylic packaging tapes, on the other hand, offer a wider temperature range than that of the hot melt tapes, ranging from 32*F to 140*F. An acrylic tape is ideal for applications that involve low and/or high humidity conditions, as well as long term storage. Acrylic tapes also have a stronger resistance to oxidation, allowing it to be uninfluenced by exposure to sunlight, meaning it won’t yellow like hot melt packaging tape does.

Examples of usage: Long-term storage in varying temperatures, lightweight carton sealing/carton closing.