When making decisions for your business, it is often a delicate balancing act between choosing what is best and what is most cost-effective. In the event of selecting the best packaging tape for your business needs, many make the mistake of underestimating the importance of their decision.
Selecting the correct packaging tapes is a crucial part of securely sealing and shipping your products both locally and overseas, making it a vital component to get right.
Different Types of Tapes
A business can choose to use two primary types of packing tape, each with unique qualities, physical properties and advantages that should be appropriately considered and evaluated.
Plastic Pressure-Sensitive Tape
Plastic pressure-sensitive tape (PST) is often called a ‘surface mount’ tape. It is manufactured by applying a dry adhesive to a plastic film. Both the adhesive, which can come in many different strength formulations, and the film, which can be found in various widths, are petroleum-based materials.
It may require multiple strips to securely close packages for shipping, so the process is repeated two to three times. Many boxes need the H-taping method to remain properly sealed for transportation, so the process is often relatively physical and repetitive to complete.
This type of tape is usually applied using a hand-held tape gun, with pressure applied after the tape has been dispensed, typically with a finger or hand. PST can further be divided into moving tape and shipping tape.
Moving tape generally does not have to be as strong as shipping tape. There are three reasons for this. Firstly, cartons or boxes moved from one location to another tend not to be handled as often as a product shipment, meaning the tape will endure less stress. Secondly, there is minimal risk of theft during a move, as the boxes tend to be in the care of the same crew from start to finish. Finally, the person responsible for sealing the cartons is typically the same person receiving them, so the condition of the seal has fewer repercussions if not perfect.
Shipping tape, however, is often thicker and has a sticker adhesive to maintain a strong and sturdy bond with the carton. This protects the contents while being in a distribution network for a much more extended period of time, being handled many more times and while it has an increased risk of theft. Additionally, the person receiving the product is a customer who expects the box to have a good seal condition on arrival.
Paper Water-Activated Tape
Paper water-activated tape (WAT) is normally made from white or tan kraft paper with a starch-based adhesive. It is available in a variety of different thicknesses and widths. It is applied using a manual or electric paper tape dispenser that cuts the tape into pre-set lengths, automatically applying the appropriate amount of water to activate the adhesive.
If you have tried removing this type of tape from a box before, you will quickly notice it is a challenging task that could damage the carton if not approached correctly. Instead, cut it at the point where the flaps come together if you plan to reuse the packaging.
The tape is placed along the seams and requires a small amount of pressure as the adhesive can form a strong bond with the carton surface by itself. Commonly, only one strip is needed for a tight seal when using this type of tape. However, for added security, following the H-taping method, as mentioned above, will safely secure any packaging.
For a more demanding job, paper packing tape can contain fibreglass filaments, further reinforcing an already strong tape standard.
Paper vs. Plastic
Because of its name, people tend to believe that paper tape is weak and easily torn. But the reality is that it forms a permanent bond with the carton material, effectively making it as strong as the material itself. Alternatively, the plastic tape is not as strong, strip-for-strip, with users having to apply multiple strips to achieve the same effect.
This increased durability extends to the reliability of paper tape and the security it will provide to your packages and cartons. It far exceeds its plastic counterpart in both aspects, making it a popular choice for companies that ship large volumes of products to customers worldwide.
Additionally, because only one trip of paper tape is needed to seal a box, it can maintain a neat and professional appearance compared to the rough look of multiple plastic strips along your packaging. Paper tape can be customised to feature logos, images, information and different colours, allowing businesses to showcase their brand across their products.
Additional Points to Consider
Despite researching your taping options, you may still feel conflicted about which option best suits your business needs. In that case, it is worthwhile considering additional points, which may allow you to make a more definitive decision.
When a package is in transit through the shipping process, it will encounter at least three different environments: the packing site, the selected mode of transport and the destination.
Plastic tape does not perform well in cold, dusty or humid conditions, and the longer a parcel spends in these weather conditions, the more likely it is to fail. Alternatively, the paper tape can maintain a solid seal on a box, regardless of weather conditions or environmental factors, as the bond between the tape and the carton is sturdy and robust.
The Importance of Productivity
For companies that only prepare to ship a small number of packages every day, packer productivity may be low on the list of priorities. A low volume of cartons could be easily handled with pressure-sensitive tape and a tape gun. But at higher volumes, water-activated tape could provide many advantages.
Independent testing has shown that employees are 21% more productive using water-activated tape, both in the number of packages that leave the business each day and in the individual performances of each member of the shipping team.