To the average person, packaging tape doesn’t require much thought, simply pick out something that gets the job done. On the packaging line however, the right tape can be the difference between a securely sealed carton and a wasted product. Knowing the difference between pressure-sensitive and water-activated tapes can make a noticeable difference on your packaging line.

Let’s jump right in…

Pressure-sensitive tapes are those which will adhere to their intended substrate with application pressure, without the need for a solvent (such as water) for activation. Pressure sensitive tapes are used in a variety of applications, from home and office to commercial and industrial use.

By contrast, a water-activated tape is one which requires warm water to activate the adhesive. In other words, pressure alone will not cause a water-activated tape to bond to a surface. In some instances, a water-activated tape may deliver a stronger bond to the carton surface than a pressure-sensitive tape – so much so that the box will likely be damaged when the tape is removed, making it ideal for applications in which security of the contents is a concern.

Similar fiber tear – or ripping of the box as tape is removed – is achievable with pressure-sensitive tapes that are applied with the proper amount of wipe-down force. This force, often generated via a wipe-down plate on a hand-held tape dispenser or rollers/wipe-down blades on an automated tape applicator, drives the tape’s adhesive into the fibers of the carton to create the bond.

Still trying to choose? Check out these 5 tips.