Hughes Enterprises

Changing Your Perspective on Tape: Hot Melt Adhesive Tape vs. Acrylic Tape

Man taping a cardboard box closed

If you aren’t a tape aficionado, selecting the right tape can be daunting. There are many choices when it comes to tape, and it’s certainly not apples-to-oranges. When it comes down to hot melt tape versus acrylic tape, there are many misconceptions. In this blog we are exploring what is current with these tapes and how to choose the correct one for your application. 

What’s the difference between Hot Melt and Acrylic? 

In general, both hot melt and acrylic tapes are great options for providing a strong, consistent seal for your cartons. The primary difference between the two is that acrylic tapes hold up in extreme temperatures. This is critical for any products that are going to be stored or transported in extremely high or low temperatures.

Here’s a quick comparison of the two types of tape: 

Similarities:

  • Commonly used in warehouse packaging environments
  • Available in clear and colored rolls
  • Used for shipping and storing cases
  • Variety of grades available

Differences:

  • Acrylic can withstand extreme temperatures and has a longer shelf life
  • Hot melt tapes can yellow with age
  • Hot melt tends to have a higher holding power

What To Consider

When selecting the proper tape for your packaging application there are many factors that are considered “rule of thumb” and help to guide the decision making process:

  • Packaging presentation: ensuring that the end package looks professional and on-brand
  • Tape grade: the grade, or thickness, of the tape is one factor that determines the holding power of the tape
  • Application method: do you want to tape by hand or use a machine?
  • Weight: the weight of the carton impacts the tape that will be selected
  • Environment: considerations include the temperature as well as humidity
  • Transportation conditions: stronger tapes are necessary if the transportation process will involve friction, high vibrations, or other stressors
  • Quality: it’s inevitable that not every brand or company will have the same quality of product; selecting a quality tape brand is key
  • Storage: how will the package be stored, and how long will it be stored?

History

For a long time, acrylic tapes were typically the go-to solution because of the cost. Acrylic was always the more economical option and – even for companies that weren’t dealing with extreme temperatures – companies would simply select acrylic because of the cost. It became a “box to check” on the packaging supplies list.

Introduce Covid, supply shortages, and an unheard-of surge in e-commerce shopping, and pricing has gone haywire. What used to be the most cost-effective option has now become the opposite, and not just for tape!

In the packaging world we have seen surges in pricing across the board, especially packaging for e-commerce companies. Not only the cost of resin but also the accessibility has created an unbalanced supply and demand that companies can’t keep up with.

The summary here is that acrylic tape pricing has surged no longer making it feasible for many companies.

Should you reconsider your tape? 

If you rely on acrylic tape due to the environmental capacity (ie. Extreme temperatures or humidity) then you will likely need to keep the acrylic and find savings elsewhere. However, if you are only using acrylic tape because of pricing, you have other options.

Hot melt tape was previously the more expensive option, so companies that could have used it still picked acrylic (even if they didn’t need it for the extreme temperatures). The pricing has now flipped; and hot melt is now the less expensive option.

If you were only selecting acrylic tape because it was the cheaper option, you can benefit from switching to hot melt tape. You will also have the added benefit that hot melt tape typically has a higher holding power.

Hot melt tape is not ideal for long term storage, so as long as you’re not planning to use the tape for storage purposes you will have a seamless transition. E-commerce companies, for example, are typically taping the box and getting it out the door to the customer. This scenario is perfect for hot melt tape.

How can Hughes help? 

While you might not be a tape guru, we have a whole staff of people who know tape! We have the know-how and the materials to help you get control of your costs and ensure that your packages are securely sealed. Contact a Hughes packaging expert today to talk about your tape options.

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