how is adhesive on packaging tape activated

by:CROWN     2024-05-25

How is Adhesive on Packaging Tape Activated?


Packaging tape is an essential component in the world of shipping and packing. It provides a secure seal for packages, ensuring their contents remain intact during transit. One of the key elements of packaging tape is its adhesive, which allows it to stick firmly to various surfaces. But have you ever wondered how this adhesive is activated? In this article, we will explore the different methods employed to activate the adhesive on packaging tape, ensuring a reliable seal and hassle-free shipping experience.

Heat-Activated Adhesive:

Heat-activated adhesive is a common type of adhesive used in packaging tape. This adhesive requires the application of heat to activate its stickiness and create a secure bond between the tape and the surface it is applied to.

When heat is applied to the tape, the adhesive on the underside undergoes a chemical reaction, becoming soft and sticky. This allows the tape to adhere firmly to the surface, preventing it from peeling off or detaching during shipping. The heat source used for activation can vary, with common methods including a heated tape dispenser or a hot air gun.

Heat-activated adhesive offers several benefits for packaging purposes. It provides a robust seal that can withstand extreme temperatures and moisture, making it ideal for packages that may undergo challenging shipping conditions. Additionally, this type of adhesive offers a long-lasting seal, ensuring that your packages arrive safely and securely at their destination.

Pressure-Sensitive Adhesive:

Another popular type of adhesive used in packaging tape is pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA). Unlike heat-activated adhesive, PSA does not require the application of heat to become sticky. Instead, it forms an adhesive bond through the application of pressure.

PSA works by utilizing a combination of adhesion and cohesion forces. The adhesive molecules in the tape are designed to have a strong attraction to the surface they are applied to, allowing them to stick effectively. When pressure is applied to the tape, the adhesive molecules are activated and begin to bond with the surface, creating a strong and reliable seal.

The pressure can be applied manually, by firmly pressing the tape onto the surface, or mechanically, using specialized tape dispensers designed to apply consistent pressure. The advantage of pressure-sensitive adhesive is its ease of use, as it does not require any additional equipment or heat source for activation.

Solvent-Based Adhesive:

Solvent-based adhesive is another method employed to activate the adhesive on packaging tape. This type of adhesive consists of a liquid formulation that contains solvents, which aid in the evaporation of the liquid carrier.

When the packaging tape is applied to a surface, the solvents in the adhesive begin to evaporate, causing the adhesive to thicken and become tacky. As the solvents continue to evaporate, the adhesive dries, creating a strong bond between the tape and the surface. Solvent-based adhesives are commonly used in applications where a high level of adhesion is required, as they offer excellent bonding capabilities.

One advantage of solvent-based adhesive is its ability to bond to a wide range of surfaces, including both porous and non-porous materials. However, it is essential to ensure proper ventilation when working with solvent-based adhesive, as the evaporation of solvents can release potentially harmful vapors.

Water-Activated Adhesive:

Water-activated adhesive, also known as gummed tape or wet tape, is an adhesive used in packaging tape that requires the application of moisture to become sticky. This type of adhesive is commonly used in applications where a high level of security is required, as it forms a strong bond that cannot be easily tampered with.

Water-activated adhesive consists of a starch-based adhesive applied to one side of the tape. When water is applied to this adhesive, it is activated, becoming sticky and creating a secure bond when applied to a surface. This adhesive works by penetrating the fibers of the cardboard or packaging material, creating a bond that is difficult to break.

The moisture used to activate the adhesive can come from various sources, including a water-dipped brush or a specialized water-activated tape dispenser. Water-activated adhesive offers several advantages, including tamper-evident security, as any attempts to remove or manipulate the tape would result in visible damage to the packaging. Additionally, this type of adhesive provides a high level of adhesion to a variety of surfaces.

Ultraviolet Light-Activated Adhesive:

Ultraviolet (UV) light-activated adhesive is a less common method used for activating the adhesive on packaging tape. This type of adhesive relies on the exposure to ultraviolet light to initiate a chemical reaction, transforming the adhesive from a liquid state to a solid, sticky state.

When the packaging tape, with UV light-activated adhesive applied, is exposed to ultraviolet light, the adhesive molecules undergo a polymerization process. This process causes the adhesive to solidify, creating a strong bond with the surface it is applied to. UV light-activated adhesive offers rapid curing times, making it useful in applications where fast production rates are required.

Although UV light-activated adhesive provides excellent bonding capabilities, it requires specialized equipment for activation. UV light sources such as UV lamps or UV LED systems are used to provide the necessary energy to initiate the polymerization process. This makes it less practical for everyday packaging applications but finds its use in specific manufacturing processes or specialty packaging requirements.


The adhesive on packaging tape is a crucial component that ensures the safe and secure transit of packages. Whether it is heat-activated, pressure-sensitive, solvent-based, water-activated, or UV light-activated, each adhesive type offers distinct advantages and is suitable for different applications.

Understanding the various methods of adhesive activation allows us to choose the most appropriate type of packaging tape for our specific needs. Heat-activated adhesive provides a robust seal, pressure-sensitive adhesive offers convenience, solvent-based adhesive provides excellent bonding capabilities, water-activated adhesive ensures tamper-evident security, and UV light-activated adhesive facilitates fast curing times.

Next time you prepare a package for shipping, take a moment to appreciate the science behind the adhesive on your packaging tape. It plays a significant role in protecting your items and ensuring they arrive safely at their destination.

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