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Pressure-sensitive tape

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Title: Pressure-sensitive tape  
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Subject: Filament tape, Package pilferage, List of generic and genericized trademarks, Gaffer (filmmaking), Timeline of United States inventions (1946–91)
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Pressure-sensitive tape

Two rolls of adhesive tape.

Pressure-sensitive tape, known also in various countries as PSA tape, adhesive tape, self-stick tape, sticky tape, or just tape, is an adhesive tape that will stick with application pressure, without the need for a solvent (such as water) or heat for activation. It can be used in the home, office, industry, and institutions for a wide variety of purposes.

The tape consists of a pressure-sensitive adhesive coated onto a backing material such as paper, plastic film, cloth, or metal foil. Some have a removable release liner which protects the adhesive until the liner is removed. Some have layers of adhesives, primers, easy release materials, filaments, printing, etc. made for specific functions.

It will stick without the need for a solvent such as heat or water for activation. By contrast a "gummed" or "water activated" adhesive tape requires warm water for activation. Likewise, some "heat activated" tapes require heat.

Single-sided tapes allow bonding to a surface or joining of two adjacent or overlapping materials. Double-sided tape (adhesive on both sides) allows joining of two items back-to-back.

Pressure-sensitive adhesive was first developed in 1845 by Dr. Horace Day, a surgeon.[1] Commercial tapes were introduced in the early twentieth century. Hundreds of patents have since been published on a wide variety of formulations and constructions.

Varieties of PSA tape

  • Transparent office tape has a transparent film backing and an acrylic or synthetic rubber based adhesive. It is used for sealing envelopes, repairing torn paper products, general holding, etc.
  • Archival tape is similar to transparent office tape, with low-acid adhesives that will not degrade surfaces they are applied to, protecting documents from damage during long-term storage.
  • 'Gaffer tape' (or simply "Gaff tape") is normally based on a heavy fabric or plastic tape. The name derives from its use by gaffers in the entertainment industry among others, to hold down cables particularly to prevent a tripping hazard and to prevent damage to cables and equipment. The adhesive leaves little or no residue, and the tape removes cleanly from cables, fabric, and many other surfaces. Its matte surface also minimizes reflections from lights.
  • Duct tape usually has a plastic-coated fabric backing and a strong adhesive. Originally designed for sealing ammunition boxes from moisture and re-purposed for civilian use, it is commonly used by people needing a strong, versatile utility tape that is easy to tear by hand.
  • Box sealing tape (also "Packing Tape"; "Parcel tape", UK) is a type of packaging tape which is clear or opaque, and used for closing packages for shipment. It is usually two inch (48 mm) or three inch (72 mm) wide and is made of a polypropylene or polyester backing.
  • Masking tape is used to cover areas that shouldn't be painted. It usually has a paper backing and an adhesive designed to remove from surfaces (within a limited time).
  • Electrical tape (or insulating tape) stretches to conform to irregular objects, and is made of materials like vinyl that do not conduct electricity. The various colors available can be used to identify wires in a circuit.
  • Surgical tape is an adhesive bandage used to hold a dressing on a wound.
  • Double-sided tape has adhesive on both sides of a backing material, for attaching two surfaces together.
  • "Adhesive transfer tape" does not have a backing material. Instead, it is sandwiched between two removable layers of a double-sided coated Release liner.
  • Filament tape or "Strapping tape" has filaments (usually fiberglass) embedded into the adhesive for extra strength.
  • Spike tape is a thinner version of gaffer tape that is usually brightly colored. It is used to mark places of furniture or actors on a stage.
  • Hockey tape or "Friction tape" is a somewhat rough cloth tape used for grip on hockey and lacrosse sticks.
  • Speed tape or "600 mile per hour tape" is a metallic foil with an adhesive designed to secure the tape under high speed airflow and is used on the skins of airplanes

Tape glossary

  • Backing. The primary component of tape upon which an adhesive is applied. Examples are cloth, paper, metal foil, film etc.
  • Conformability. Ability of a tape to make total contact with a rough or uneven surface.
  • Creped. Paper that has small "folds" to provide stretchability and conformability.
  • Double-coated, or two-sided tape. Pressure-sensitive tape with adhesive on both sides of the carrier material.
  • Gapping. Openings between layers of tape within a roll.
  • Release coating. A very thin coating applied to the impervious tape backing so as to allow the tape to be unwound at a controlled level.
  • Substrate. The material which the PSA tape must adhere to
  • Tack. The sticky feel of the tape. It is the initial adhesion without rub-down.
  • Telescoping. A sideways sliding of the tape layers, one over the other, so that the roll looks like a funnel or telescope.
  • Unwind. The force to remove or unwind the tape from a roll.

PSA tape standards

The PSA industry is in the process of unifying the several standards presently in use. The most active organizations are:

  • ISO AFNOR committee is currently active in the definition of international standards; some of the most common test methods, such as Peel Adhesion, Static Shear Adhesion, Break Strength and Elongation are presently ISO standard
  • ASTM : ASTM International has several Technical Committees which write standards related to pressure-sensitive tape.
  • PSTC : Pressure Sensitive Tape Council (tapes, North America)
  • TLMI : Tag & Label Manufacturers Institute (labels, North America)
  • AFERA : European Association for the Self Adhesive Tape Industry (tapes, Europe)
  • FINAT : Féderation INternationale des fabricants et transformateurs d' Adhésifs et Thermocollants (labels, Europe)
  • JATMA : Japanese Adhesive Tapes Manufacturers Association

ASTM International has dozens of standards related to pressure-sensitive tape. Some of them are for general types of PSA tape: Others are for specific types. For example ASTM D1000 has test methods for electrical tapes. There are ASTM specifications for many tapes including: D2301 for vinyl electrical tape, D5486 for box sealing tape, etc. Several of the ASTM test methods are coordinated with PSTC, other trade associations, and other international organizations.

Following are a few examples of some ASTM standards and counterparts:

ASTM Designation ISO Designation PSTC method AFERA method
D3121 Standard test method for tack of pressure-sensitive adhesives by rolling ball PSTC-6
D3330 Standard Test Method for Peel Adhesion of Pressure-Sensitive Tape EN 1939 PSTC-101 AFERA 5001
D3654 Standard Test Methods for Shear Adhesion of Pressure-Sensitive Tapes EN 1943 PSTC-107 AFERA 5012
D3759 Standard Test Method for Breaking Strength and Elongation of Pressure-Sensitive Tapes EN 14410 PSTC-131 AFERA 5004
D3811 Standard test method for unwind force of pressure-sensitive tapes PSTC-8
D5750 Standard Guide for Width and Length of Pressure-Sensitive Tape PSTC-71

Environmental considerations

Based on the solid waste hierarchy, the quantity and size of a tape should be minimized without reducing necessary functionality. Material content of a tape should comply with applicable regulations. Life cycle assessments of the tape and the item being taped are useful to identify and improve possible environmental effects. For example, there may be instances where the use of a PSA tape, compared to an alternative solution, improves the overall environmental impact: or vice versa.[2]

Reuse or recycling are sometimes aided by a tape being removable from a surface. If a tape remains on an item during recycling, a tape should be chosen which does not hinder the recyclability of the item. For example, when taped corrugated boxes are recycled, film backed box sealing tapes do not hinder box recycling: the PSA adhesive stays with the backing and is easily removed.[3][4]

See also


  1. ^ Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, By Merrily A. Smith, Norvell M. M. Jones, II, Susan L. Page and Marian Peck Dirda;JAIC 1984, Volume 23, Number 2, Article 3 (pp. 101 to 113)
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^

Further reading

  • "Pressure Sensitive Adhesive Tapes", J. Johnston, PSTC, 2003, ISBN 0-9728001-0-7
  • "Pressure Sensitive Formulation", I. Benedek, VSP, 2000, ISBN 90-6764-330-0

External links

  • Pressure Sensitive Tape Council
  • The History of Pressure Sensitive Tape
  • How its Made: Adhesive Tape, [1]
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