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Plastic vs Paper: How to Pick The Right Packing Tape for Your Business

One of the most fundamental requirements of the packaging industry is “packing tape”. Packing tape is used to seal, wrap, or bundle items during storage, handling, or shipment. There are various types of packing tapes available. And, they differ in material, strength, thickness, width, and so on. With several options out there, it can be tough to decide on the right tape for your business needs. 

Here is a quick, 9-minute guide that’ll help you understand different packing tapes— their properties and applications— so that you can pick the perfect tape for the job.

Different Types of Packaging Tape Explored

Packing tapes come in all shapes and sizes. But even paper and plastic tapes can be divided based on their application. To give you a crash course, the below video briefs you on widely used tapes ideal for any industry. Their applications range from security packaging to brand identification. 

Tapes are also differentiated based on the specific materials used and adhesives. Here’s a list of popular tapes used across businesses.  

#1— Box Tape or BOPP Packing Tape

  • Properties: Common, inexpensive, customizable (print, color, thickness, width)
  • Construction: PSAs (Pressure-sensitive adhesives), Polymer
  • Application: Across all industries, for poly mailers, carton sealing

The most common type of tape, box tapes or bi-axially polypropylene tapes, are medium-strength tapes used for a variety of applications but usually to seal corrugated boxes. These tapes transparent, brown in color, or can be easily customized with patterns or branding. 

Since the tapes don’t need the application of water to be activated, they can be used anywhere.

#2— Lightweight Packing Tape

  • Properties: Inexpensive, durable
  • Construction: Paper, Polyester
  • Application: For lightweight packages

Polyester plastic tapes or paper tapes are great to seal and enclose low-weight packages— of less than 15kgs. It typically has a pressure-sensitive adhesive and is simple to handle and dispense. 

#3— Heavy-Duty Packing Tape

  • Properties: Strong, durable, scuff-resistance, insulation
  • Construction: PVC, Reinforced paper, Heat/water activated
  • Application: For heavy packages, electrical insulation

Heavy-duty tapes are used for boxes weighing 20 to 30 kilograms. Usually, PVC tapes are used for this purpose but paper tapes reinforced with fiberglass can also be used. Such tapes offer electrical and chemical insulation and can often be used for electronic packaging.

#4— Tamper-Evident Tape

  • Properties: Tamper detection, tough-bond or intentionally weak to detect tampering
  • Construction: Paper, Polypropylene, PSA
  • Application: For high-security shipments, retail packaging, food, pharma industry
tamper evident tapes - Type of Tapes
Image Courtesy: hindi.printablesecuritylabels.com

Security packaging tape or tamper-evident tapes are used to detect package tampering. They can be used to maintain the authenticity of box contents, prevent adulteration, or indicated a breach. Such tapes are difficult to tear away or leave behind printed text when peeled.

#5— Scotch Tape

  • Properties: Transparent, writeable, easy-to-use
  • Construction: Plastic, PSA
  • Applications: Quite common; used for arts, craft, gift-wrapping, home, offices.

Scotch tapes are extremely common. They stick to packages easily and are especially used to stick paper. They are water-resistant and bear a low-price tag, and are quite portable too.

#6— Gummed Packing Tape

  • Properties: Tamper-resistance, weather-proof, customized printing, fragile
  • Construction: Paper, Water-activated adhesive
  • Applications: Theft-avoidance, tamper-evident, envelope sealing; food, health care, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, electronics, jewelry, security industries
Gummed Kraft paper tape  - Type of Tapes
Courtesy: cn.all.biz

Gummed packing tapes are paper tapes often referred to as the Kraft tape. They are used for both light-weight and heavy-weight cartons (with reinforcement). Unlike plastic tapes, gummed packing tapes come in different grades based on box weight. And, they are slightly more expensive and wider as compared to plastic tapes.

However, gummed tapes are ideal when security is of high concern. They can’t be peeled away easily and leave behind evidence to indicate tampering. They also provide a sustainable solution to packaging. 

Another advantage of gummed tape is that they can be applied easily without pressure, making them suitable for fragile boxes.

Read: Everything About Gummed Paper Tapes

#7— Double-Sided Tape

  • Properties: Sticky on both sides, customizable (thickness, width, length)
  • Construction: Paper, Foam
  • Applications: Multipurpose, bonding, mounting, fashion
double-sided tape  - Type of Tapes

Double-sided tape is coated with pressure-sensitive adhesive on both sides. It is designed to stick to both surfaces and especially work well with paper, wood, or plastic. When it comes to construction they make for neater solutions than glue.

#8— Masking Tape

  • Properties: Easy-to-remove, flexible, heat-resistant
  • Construction: Paper
  • Applications: For paint jobs

Masking tapes are used to protect surfaces when painting. The part covered by the tape prevents the paint from being applied. Specialty masking tape can resist direct sunlight and withstand high temperatures. 

Maskng Tape - Type of Tapes
Image Courtesy: Industry Plaza

#9— Duct Tape

  • Properties: Flexible, extremely sticky/tacky, heat resistance, can be torn by hand
  • Construction: Polyethylene, PSA
  • Applications: Across industries, especially packers-and-moves and HVAC

Duct tapes come in handy when packing corrugated boxes for shipment. They are often used by the Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning industry.

Duct Tape - Type of Tapes
Image Courtesy: Sarnika

#10— Strapping Tape

  • Properties: High tensile-strength, clean removal, abrasion-resistance
  • Construction: Polypropylene, Polyester, PSA
  • Applications: Reinforcing packages, bundling products, pallet/load unitizing; electronic, appliances, automotive, manufacturing industries 
Strapping Tape - Type of Tapes
Image Courtesy: Exporters India

Filament tape or strapping tape has the capability to withhold several hundred pounds of pressure. They have high-strength and are often used to bundle items or reinforce packages.

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Customizing Packaging Tapes

Packing tapes can be customized for length, width, thickness, and can even be printed upon. The print could be to add some information about the contents of the box or handling— for example, a tape that says “fragile” could indicate that the box has to be handled with care— or, could be used for branding— for example, Zomato uses a tape with its logo to seal the contents of a delivery box.

Customized Tapes  - Type of Tapes
Image Courtesy: xoraprintedtapes.com

When it comes to aesthetics, paper tapes are kraft color or white. They are ideal for brands that have an earthy tone or monochromatic schemes. Poly tapes, on the other hand, are clear and glossy, making them suitable for brands with bold and popping graphics.

Which Packing Tape is Right for Your Business?

When it comes to picking the right packaging tape, you have to take into account several factors— such as the weight and dimensions of the package, the stability of the package contents, security requirements, strength of the box, and shipping methods.

For example, corrugated boxes with light-weight contents might need a regular BOPP tape, heavy packages might need paper tapes, whereas a valuable package might need tamper-evident sealing. When it comes to leading shipping services, Amazon uses paper tapes for packaging, while USPS recommends the use of BOPP tape, reinforced packing tape, or paper tape.

It comes down to your needs and requirements. Picking the most suitable tape for the task can save you a considerable amount of worry. So, invest in the right tape, always!

Need advice on which tape to pick for your goods or products? Write to us or leave your comment below!

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