Adhesive Tape 101

The Purpose of Adhesive Tape:3M Double Coated Urethane Foam Tape 4016

Tape 101 explains how bonding 2 surfaces together is the basic goal for using adhesive tapes. Adhesive tapes contain a material and an adhesive film to bond or join objects together instead of using fasteners, screws, or welding. Applying adhesive tapes over mechanical fasteners enables you to use lower temperature applications which is helpful when making manufacturing processes easier. Your surface area will be protected because there is no need for damaging the surface area by using fasteners or screws. Adhesive tapes are great solutions for automated product production, whereas liquid adhesives are messy and time consuming because they need to be sprayed and/or rolled into or onto the surface before bonding took place.

The Composition of Adhesive Tape:

The composition of adhesive tapes typically consist of a material called a backing or carrier (paper, plastic film, cloth, foam, foil, etc.) and is often coated with an adhesive and maybe a release liner. The adhesive-coated material is then wound up to form a long jumbo roll of tape. The jumbo roll is then slit into narrow width bands to produce several rolls of tape. Each roll and it’s composition is unique and performance for a wide variety of bonding solutions, which can be tailored to specific applications.

Adhesive Tape Backing Or Carrier:

Adhesive tapes and films vary in terms of a carrier or backing material. Films are synthetic resin adhesives that can include a carrier fabric. Often, plastic films are made of thermoplastic resins. Copper foil backing is used in the manufacture of multilayer printed circuit boards (PCB). Aluminum foil is laminated to paper or plastic films to provide more strength.  Transfer tape (a highly versatile product) consists of a thin adhesive film with no carrier, can be transferred to most dry surfaces from a peel-away release liner. Transfer tape and double-sided tapes often use a release liner to improve handling and dispensing of the tape. Double-sided tape liners often incorporate differentially coated release liners that are easy to peel. These release liners are made either of paper, film or silicone. Board liners are heavyweight paper liners that are usually measured in terms of points. Being the most common is the 12-point liner. Other backing materials include cloth, paper, foam, plastic, silicone, rubber and urethane.

  • Paper: Paper tape products have a paper backing and are also referred as flat back tape.
  • Cloth: A cloth backing often incorporates a woven cloth or a fabric layer for reinforcement, extra strength and heat resistance properties.
  • Felt: Felt or non-woven tapes are often applied to substrates to prevent scratching.
  • Foam: Adhesive-coated foam backing tape contains an adhesive that is protected by a liner. Foam  is often used for sealing, weatherstripping and mounting.
  • Metal Foil: Aluminum, aluminum-reinforced and lead backings resist flames, temperature extremes and high humidity. Metal tapes are usually designed for taping joints, seams against moisture and vapor.
  • Plastic Film/Polymer: Generally, there are two categories of plastics: thermoplastics and thermosets. Plastic products contain one or more plastic layers. They consist of a plastic film that can be clear, colored, printed or plain. They can be single-layered or multilayered, and combined with materials such as paper and/or aluminum.
  • PET/Polyester: Polyethylene teraphthalate (PET)/polyester products use a PET or polyester backing in the form of a film or laminate. Also known as Mylar.
  • Polyimide: Polyimide tape consists of a polyimide film and a heat-resistant, silicone adhesive. Polyimide films are useful substrates for the manufacture of flexible circuit materials. Polyimide film maintains excellent physical, mechanical, chemical and electrical properties over a wide range of environments. Also known and branded as Kapton Tape.
  • PVC/Vinyl: Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)/vinyl products use a vinyl or PVC backing to resist wear, weathering and abrasion.
  • Rubber: Products use a rubber backing to produce a conformable self-fusing rubber electrical insulating and sealing tape.
  • Silicone: Silicone backed tape products use silicone backing of many grades to match varying requirements. A superior product for gaskets, insulators, press pads, and die-cut parts.
  • Acrylic Films: Acrylic films have excellent clarity and are UV stable. Acrylic films are plastic or thermoplastic resin films manufactured using polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) or polymethyl-2-methylpropanoate.
  • Glass/Fiberglass: Tape or film reinforced with fiberglass, fiberglass composite material or a glass layer resists shrinking, rotting, or burning. Provides exceptional stability in harsh environments.
  • Filament: Filament is usually referred to as strapping tape. It is a strong and versatile material that allows the user to bundle similar or oddly-shaped items together for shipping or storage. Filament tape is composed of thousands of filaments (usually fiberglass) woven into yarns that are embedded into the adhesive.
  • Fluoropolymer/PTFE/PVDF: Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is an insoluble compound that exhibits a high degree of chemical resistance and a low coefficient of friction. Fluoropolymer films, layers or coatings consist of plastics such as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) or polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF). Fluoropolymer is often used in applications that require superior chemical resistance, good dielectric properties and water and stain repellent characteristics. Also used in applications where the material handled must not stick to the belt, fabric or laminate.

Adhesive Materials:

Selecting the right tape for your application and solution requires a good understanding of the adhesive being used to coat the backing or carrier. Rubber-based adhesives provide highly flexible bonds. Where as, acrylic adhesives is the choice for environmental resistance. Epoxy resins displays a high strength and low shrinkage during curing. Silicone adhesives have a high temperature resistance. Polyurethane and isocyanate adhesives provides more flexibility, impact resistance and durability. Furthermore, some adhesives are pressure sensitive, thermally activated or may even require moisture to work. Others, such as latex gums, adhere to themselves. Hot melt and thermoset adhesives are solid at room temperature and are regularly accessible. Most popular adhesives are:

  • Acrylic: Acrylic adhesives provide excellent environmental resistance and provides a faster setting time than other adhesives.
  • Epoxy: Epoxy resins exhibit high strength and low shrinkage during curing and are known for their toughness and resistance to chemical and environmental damage.
  • Rubber: Rubber-based adhesives provide highly flexible bonds and are usually based on butadiene-styrene, butyl, polyisobutylene or nitrile compounds.
  • Silicone: Silicone adhesives and sealants have a high degree of flexibility and very high temperature resistance.

The Adhesive Tape Market:

There are four major players within the tape market. Here is a brief description of each:

  • Pressure sensitive adhesives (PSAs) are tacky at room temperature in dry form. They adhere firmly to a variety of dissimilar surfaces and requires only the application of a finger or hand. PSAs do not require water, solvent or heat activation in order to bond to materials such as paper, plastic, glass, wood, cement and metal. PSAs need pressure to ensure bonding. The recommended bonding pressure is 14.5 – 29 psi =^ 10 – 20 N/cm². The temperature durning application should be at a moderate temperature between 59º F and 95º F. Lower temperatures might lead to insufficient “wetting” or “coverage” of the adhesive on the substrate. Very high temperatures may cause the tape to stretch when being applied, which could create additional stress in the final application.
  • Heat activated tape is usually tack-free until it is activated by a heat source. Heat activated tape requires a time at elevated temperatures at 180˚F or higher to achieve a bond.  Heat-activated adhesive allows aggressive bonding to difficult surfaces such as rubber, EPDM, PU and PVC-based plastic materials. And can be made with different carriers that would be suitable for different types of applications.
  • Water activated tape, gummed paper tape or gummed tape is a starch or an animal glue-based adhesive on a kraft paper backing which becomes sticky when moistened. Water activated tape is inexpensive and is used for closing and sealing boxes. Before closing and sealing the corrugated boxes, the tape is wetted or moistened by water.
  • Non-adhesive tapes, films or laminates do not have an applied adhesive because they are self-adhering. PTFE thread-sealing tape is a type of non-adhesive tape.


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