Printed packaging tape comes in four common kinds that can be printed on and used for packaging. Polypropylene is the most common one because of its relative low cost and ability to get most jobs done when it comes to standard shipping. It is made of a hot melt adhesive and as the name implies the film is made of polypropylene. Once it is applied to a box, it with fuse to it. Just be aware that the more a box has been recycled, the harder time polypro will have sticking to the box.
PVC, which stands for polyvinyl chloride, is known as the Cadillac of tape. This is due to the materials it is made up of which is a natural rubber adhesive and a hard vinyl film. One of the most common uses of PVC is used to close bags of food at grocery stores. There is actually a trick to know the difference between polypro, PVC and acrylic, which will be covered next. When unwinding a roll of tape, PVC is fairly quiet compared to the other two.
Acrylic is mainly used in cold and freezer temperatures. The industry that uses their tape the most is meatpacking companies. Once acrylic is applied to a surface, it sticks best within 24 hours. Be advised that it is not possible to print on the surface of the film like the other two. That is why it is printed on the adhesive side instead.
Gummed or water activated tape has grown in popularity in recent years especially with ecommerce companies. Before Amazon, the ecommerce giant, started using them to seal all their boxes, gummed tape was on its way down. That is when it started being more popular and other companies took notice.
The first three can be used with either a hand or a machine dispenser depending on how many packages that certain company has to seal in a day. But gummed tape requires another kind of dispenser that brushes water onto the tape in order to activate the adhesive. There are both hand and machine dispensers for them as well.
Depending on the items being shipped, there may be instances of overstuffed boxes. When this is the case, it is advised to use tape 3 inches wide with more adhesive on the film. This only applies to polypro, PVC and acrylic. Gummed tape tends to stick the best on boxes so you wouldn’t need to worry about it unsticking in transit if a box is overstuffed or under stuffed.