Why Does Temperature Matter in Tape Manufacturing and Application?

Have you ever had a failure from your pressure sensitive tape and could not really explain why? You took the time to clean and prep the surfaces, you made sure that you followed all the normal procedures only to have the tape fail?

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Unfortunately, I have seen it a few times in my career. It is not the phone call I like to receive. So let’s explore one of those “x” factors.

One of the considerations one must face is temperature. This one thing can effect so much of what we do with tape. Did you apply the tape under the right temperature? What types of temperatures will the tape endure once it leaves your location? Will it see many types of temperatures due to being taken indoors and outdoors? Many things to think about.

To understand how temperatures can take such a toll on tape, a basic adhesive tape manufacturers understanding of the chemistry behind the adhesive is needed. While I am not a chemist, I have learned enough through my experience in the tape industry to have a solid understanding of how tape works.

A pressure sensitive adhesive is designed to be rigid enough to stay on the backing of the tape, yet elastic enough to wet out onto the shaft when applied. Temperature will make an impact on that dynamic between the two conditions of the adhesive. If you apply the tape in temperature that is too cool, the adhesive is harder and it doesn’t “flow” as easily. If the temperature is too warm, the adhesive may flow too much and when it cools there may not be enough of that chain in the bond to hold together.

Now let’s talk about what else can and most likely will happen. Your substrate leaves your location and enters the “real world”. A world where you have very little or no control. Are the materials going to be exposed to high temperatures by being left in a hot car for days on end? Or left in a freezing weather for many days in a row? With that temperature swing, there is expansion and contraction within that substrate and this will all make a difference in the bond of your tape.

I recommend applying most tape at room temperature. This will give you the best chance of having your tape perform to the very best of its ability.