Why won’t packaging tape stick in cold temperatures?

by | Jan 2, 2017 | Application, Packaging Tape, Packaging Tapes

Different types of adhesive fare differently when exposed to sub-freezing temperatures. The adhesive used to seal cartons is viscoelastic, meaning it has properties of both a liquid and a solid. Because of this, the adhesive becomes brittle and glass-like when exposed to colder temperatures instead of remaining soft and pliable. Without being the right consistency, the adhesive loses the tackiness that enables it to bond.

The first factor that needs to be considered is the temperature of the environment where the tape is being applied to cartons, or the application temperature. In order to create a strong bond, wipe-down pressure is needed to help the adhesive flow into and build a bond with the corrugated fibers of the carton. The liquid component of the adhesive allows it to flow, build tack, and grip onto things, so when cold temperatures harden that adhesive, it loses the ability to flow and build a secure bond. That is why traditional tapes become ineffective when the temperature drops.

It is also key to understand the environment where the sealed cartons will be stored, or the service temperature. If sealed cartons are stored in cold temperatures before the adhesive has had time to form a permanent bond to the carton, the adhesive can become brittle and lose its tack, resulting in tape failure.

So how do you approach packaging when packed cartons are stored in unheated warehouses during the Winter, or when they contain produce or other perishables that need to be kept refrigerated or even blast frozen after packaging? Consider using a tape specifically formulated for use in cold environment applications. For example, cold temperature hot melt packaging tape is a good choice for industrial carton sealing in temperatures ranging from 20 F to 75 F or in storage temperatures as low as -20 F.

Visit Shurtape.com to explore some options for cold-weather sealing tape.

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Bradley Dunlap

About The Author

As a senior product marketing manager at Shurtape Technologies, LLC, Bradley Dunlap is responsible for leading the product development and marketing support for the Packaging Tape and Equipment category. He is a member of the Pressure Sensitive Tape Council (PSTC) and Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP), and has completed PSTC training for Manufacturing and Testing of Pressure Sensitive Tape Adhesives and Tape University™ Advanced. Bradley is a graduate of Appalachian State University with a Bachelor’s degree in business management.