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Selecting the Right Tape for the Right Job: A Mine Field of Issues

By Rick Huskey

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June 3, 2014

Selecting the right tape for the job can be a daunting question to answer.  The choices are numerous.  Should I use a high tack or a low tack adhesive?   A permanent?   A removable?   What about using an acrylic?   Or should I select a rubber based adhesive?   “Heck, I don’t know.”   What type of tape should I use?   A double-coated tape?   How about a transfer tape or free-film or better yet an unsupported adhesive?  What are the implications the different types of release liners?   A film liner versus a paper liner?  Polycoated kraft liners versus polyester liners?    What do all these different weights mean?  40 lbs, 50 lbs, 60 lbs, 74 lbs, 78 lbs, 80 lbs   “OMG!  There are different thickness, too?”   1 mil, 2 mil, 3.0 mil, 3.2 mil, 4.5 mil, 6 mil, etc., etc.  Is it an outdoor or indoor application?   It’s all gibberish, mumbo jumbo.   “I just want a tape that works!” The questions are endless; the terminology is confusing; and the choices are many.   The technical data sheets don’t seem to help.  And, the selection guides offer little comfort in making the right choice.  PLEASE HELP ME!

There are indeed a lot of tape options to choose from and a lot of questions to consider when selecting the proper tape for any application.   It can appear to be an intimidating challenge.   Fortunately, it is a challenge you don’t have to face alone.    As they say, “two heads are better than one” and “groups make better decisions than individuals”.  Help is just a phone call away.  It is okay to rely on suppliers to help guide you through the selection criteria.   I actually encourage you to do so even if you are very familiar with the application and tape.    It’s always good to get a second opinion.   Remember the motto, “measure twice cut once”.     Talking to suppliers can help avoid misapplications.  

I certainly do not want to overwhelm you with a lengthy dissertation on how to select the proper tape so I will focus on just a few key features to consider when trying to select a tape.  The right tape product must consider the manufacturing and process requirements the tape will undergo during use.  Hence the choice of liner type and adhesive become clearer and more important.   The environmental conditions the tape will see in its lifecycle are critical, i.e. indoor versus outdoor, UV exposure, heat, temperature range, rain, and chemicals will help decide if it is an acrylic or a rubber or even a silicone pressure sensitive adhesive.  Its appearance and shape in how it is being used are key criteria as well.  Is the application on a flat, curved or round surface?  Are there sharp edges or corners?  The answer to these questions will help guide you in determining the physical attributes of the tape, i.e. peel, adhesion, and shear.   The type of surface is something you’ll always have to consider.  Is it a low or high surface energy surface?  Low energy surfaces such as powdered coated paints, polyethylene, and polypropylene are the more difficult to bond.   These will required a rubber based adhesive or a modified acrylic.   And, finally its intended performance when it has served its purpose must be considered.   In the end, did the tape do its job properly?   An easy example to understand could be a removable, low tack adhesive.  Did the adhesive hold the advertisement, the part, or mask and removal cleanly and easily when it was removed?  It doesn’t matter if the product or part was temporarily bonded or held up for a week, three months, or two years.  Did it work?  That’s all we care about.

Just call Nova Films & Foils Inc.   We love to discuss tape.  We’d be happy to help you decide which tape is right for your application.  A simple conversation can help you sleep at night.

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