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How is the adhesive on our packaging tape activated? (Water-Activated tape chapter)

A collection of decorative adhesive tapes with various intricate patterns and colors, neatly arranged on a patterned surface with soft lighting casting gentle shadows.

The activation of the adhesive on various packaging tapes depends on the type of tape and the adhesive material used. Here’s a general overview of common types and their activation methods:

  1. Pressure-Sensitive: Needs pressure to bond.
  2. Water-Activated (Gummed): Requires water for activation.
  3. Heat-Activated: Activates with heat.
  4. Cold Seal: Bonds to itself without external activation.

What is Water-Activated Tape?


Water-Activated Tape (WAT), often referred to as gummed tape, is a packaging marvel that ensures parcels are sealed securely, providing an optimal level of protection and integrity during shipping. Unlike conventional tapes, WAT features a unique adhesive layer that requires moisture to activate its adhesive properties. This adhesive, made primarily from natural starches and gums, bonds irreversibly with the cardboard material of boxes, creating a permanent seal that significantly enhances the security and strength of the packaging.

What Makes Water-Activated Tape Different?

The difference between Water-Activated Tape and traditional adhesive tapes lies in its unparalleled sealing capability, environmental sustainability, and tamper-evident design. When activated by water, the adhesive deeply penetrates the fibers of the cardboard, forming a bond that is integral to the box itself. This creates a seal that cannot be opened without leaving visible signs of tampering, thereby adding an extra layer of security. Moreover, WAT is made from biodegradable materials, making it an eco-friendlier option compared to its plastic counterparts. Its ability to be customized with prints, such as logos or handling instructions, further sets it apart, offering businesses a tool for brand reinforcement right on their packaging.

Pressure-Sensitive Tape vs. Water-Activated Tape (WAT)

When comparing pressure-sensitive tape (PST) to Water-Activated Tape, several key differences emerge in terms of application, security, and performance. PST, commonly seen in forms like shipping tape or duct tape, adheres to surfaces upon the application of pressure. It’s versatile and convenient for a wide range of uses but lacks the same level of bond strength and security provided by WAT.

  1. Security and Strength: WAT’s adhesive, once activated and dried, creates a bond that is significantly stronger and more secure than that of PST. The seal formed is tamper-evident, meaning any attempt to open the package will result in visible damage to the box, a feature not present with PST.
  2. Environmental Impact: WAT offers a more sustainable option, being made from renewable resources and being fully recyclable. PST, on the other hand, often contains plastic elements, contributing to environmental waste.
  3. Application Efficiency: While PST can be applied quickly without the need for water activation, this convenience comes at the cost of lower security and strength. WAT, although requiring the extra step of water activation, compensates with a superior seal and the added benefit of reinforcing the structural integrity of the packaging.

Why Your Water Activated Tape Isn’t Sticking

Encountering issues with Water-Activated Tape (WAT) not adhering as expected can be frustrating. This problem often stems from a few common factors that, once identified, can be easily remedied. First, insufficient water application can lead to inadequate activation of the adhesive. WAT requires a precise amount of moisture to fully activate its starch-based glue. Secondly, the quality of water matters; using water that’s too cold may not activate the adhesive properly. Another issue could be the tape or the box’s surface condition. Dust, dirt, or excessive printing on the box can hinder the adhesive’s ability to form a strong bond. Lastly, the age and storage conditions of the tape can affect its performance. Over time, exposure to extreme temperatures or humidity can degrade the adhesive qualities of WAT.

How to Take off Water-Activated Tape

Removing Water-Activated Tape from packages requires care to avoid damage to the underlying box. Since WAT forms a strong bond with the cardboard, it’s not meant to be repositioned or peeled off like conventional tapes. However, if removal is necessary, gently applying warm water over the tape can soften the adhesive, making it easier to remove without tearing the cardboard. This can be done using a sponge or cloth. It’s important to note that the tape is designed to be tamper-evident, so any removal attempts will likely leave visible marks. For recycling purposes, most WAT is fully recyclable along with the cardboard, eliminating the need for removal in many cases.

Why Should Businesses Consider Water-Activated Tape?

Businesses across various sectors are increasingly turning to Water-Activated Tape for its superior performance and environmental benefits. Its tamper-evident nature provides added security, reducing the risk of theft or tampering during transit. This feature alone can enhance customer trust and satisfaction by ensuring products arrives intact and unopened. Furthermore, WAT’s strong bond significantly reinforces package integrity, reducing the risk of damage during shipping.

From an operational perspective, using WAT can lead to efficiency gains. Its ability to seal boxes with a single strip reduces material usage and packing time. Additionally, the option to customize tape with branding and messaging allows businesses to transform their packaging into a marketing tool, improving brand visibility and recognition.

Environmental sustainability is another critical factor driving the adoption of WAT. Made from renewable resources and being fully recyclable, it aligns with the growing trend towards eco-friendly packaging solutions. By choosing WAT, businesses can reduce their environmental impact while still ensuring their packaging is secure and effective.

Water-Activated Tape for Various Industries

Water-Activated Tape (WAT) is not just a packaging solution but a versatile tool that caters to the unique demands of various industries. Its superior sealing capability, coupled with tamper-evident and eco-friendly features, makes it a preferred choice across different sectors.

  1. E-Commerce and Retail: In an era where online shopping is prevalent, WAT ensures that products reach customers securely and in pristine condition. Its robust adhesion protects items during transit, a crucial factor for businesses that ship fragile or high-value goods.
  2. Food and Beverage: For industries where hygiene and safety are paramount, WAT offers a dust-resistant seal that keeps contaminants out. Its natural composition also means it’s a safer choice for packaging consumables.
  3. Pharmaceuticals: The tamper-evident nature of WAT is vital for the pharmaceutical industry, where package integrity can directly impact consumer health. It ensures that medications and health products are not tampered with from the point of packing to delivery.
  4. Electronics: High-value electronic goods require secure packaging to prevent theft and damage. WAT’s strong bond and resistance to extreme temperatures make it ideal for shipping electronic products.
  5. Arts and Antiques: For items that are irreplaceable or have sentimental value, WAT provides an added layer of protection with its durable and secure sealing capability.

Where to Buy Water-Activated Tape

Purchasing Water-Activated Tape can be straightforward, provided you know where to look. Many suppliers offer WAT, but it’s essential to choose a provider that aligns with your business’s specific needs.

  1. Packaging Supply Companies: Many companies specialize in packaging materials and supplies, including WAT. These suppliers often offer a wide range of tape options, including different widths, lengths, and custom printing capabilities.
  2. Online Marketplaces: Platforms like Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba host multiple sellers offering Water-Activated Tape. This can be a convenient option, allowing for comparison shopping and access to user reviews.
  3. Direct from Manufacturers: Purchasing directly from manufacturers can be cost-effective, especially for large orders. It also opens up possibilities for customization, such as adding your brand’s logo or specific messages on the tape.
  4. Specialty Stores: Some stores focus on eco-friendly or specialized packaging solutions and may offer Water-Activated Tape made from sustainable resources.

Choosing the Right Water-Activated Tape

Selecting the correct type of Water-Activated Tape for your business involves considering several factors:

  1. Strength Requirements: Evaluate the weight and durability needs of your packages. Reinforced WAT, with embedded fibers, offers extra strength for heavy or valuable items.
  2. Customization Needs: If branding is a priority, look for tapes that support high-quality printing. This can enhance your packaging’s visual appeal and serve as a marketing tool.
  3. Environmental Considerations: For businesses committed to sustainability, ensure the tape is made from renewable resources and is fully recyclable.
  4. Budget Constraints: While WAT may have a higher upfront cost than conventional tapes, its efficiency and security benefits can lead to long-term savings. Balance your budget with the level of security and branding you wish to achieve.
  5. Supplier Reliability: Choose suppliers known for quality products and reliable service. This ensures you get consistent supplies of WAT that meet your packaging standards

Incorporating Water-Activated Tape into your packaging strategy is more than an operational decision; it’s a commitment to security, sustainability, and brand integrity. By carefully selecting the right tape for your needs, you can enhance your packaging’s performance and contribute positively to your brand’s reputation and the environment. For help or further information, you can contact [email protected].

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