What are the different adhesive tape carrier material types?
Adhesive tape backing materials are the foundation of adhesive tapes that provide structural support, dimensional stability, and overall durability to a tape. Adhesive tape backing materials are often called carriers. The backing material or carrier chemical composition depends on end application requirements.
Common adhesive tape carrier materials include plastic films, foam, rubber, cloth or fabric, metal foil, or paper.
Plastic Tape Carriers
Film Tape, also known as Plastic Tape or Plastic Film consists of uniform, homogeneous, non-fibrous synthetic webs of Polyester, Polyethylene, Polyurethane, Polypropylene, Polyimide/Kapton®, Polycarbonate/Lexan®, PTFE, Vinyl (PVC and UPVC) and many more substrates. Films are available plain (without adhesive) or with acrylic, rubber, or silicone adhesive on one or both sides and in any combination.
Plastic film adhesive carriers are typically used for surface protection, identification, safety, bonding, splicing, electrical, medical, and packaging applications. Typically, printed films are used for labeling, and films combined with low-tack adhesive are used for surface protection.
Polyester (PET) Tape Backing
Polyester Films, also known as Mylar®, are flexible and dimensionally stable, making them hard to tear. Typically, resistant to high temperature and UV, Polyester Film is often used for electrical insulation, surface protection, and packaging. Polyester Film is available in a variety of finishes, from clear to silver and many other colors or tints.
Polyethylene (PE) Tape Backing
Polyethylene Films are the most common plastic films and an environmentally friendly alternative to PVC. Offering flexibility, conformability, and excellent chemical resistance, Polyethylene Films are used in a range of applications from surface protection to packaging to application tape.
Polycarbonate (PC) Tape Backing
Polycarbonate Films, also known as Lexan® (a Sabic/General Electric Plastics™ brand) offer excellent clarity or matte and textured finishes in all thicknesses. They exhibit good electrical and voltage resistance properties, making them a common choice for electrical insulation applications. Polycarbonate Film is also often used in graphic art and printing applications.
Polyimide (PI) Tape Backing
Polyimide Films, also known as Kapton® (a DuPont™ brand), are transparent, high temperature-resistant, flame resistant, and leave minimal residue when removed. Polyimide Film is most commonly used in high temperature applications or those with potential exposure to fire.
Polypropylene (PP) Tape Backing
Polypropylene Films are tough, flexible, recyclable, and resistant to fatigue. Depending on the chemistry, Polypropylene Films are often used for electrical insulation due to their good electrical and voltage resistance properties, or packaging applications, such as Carton Sealing Tapes, Tamper Evident Tapes, and Strapping Tapes.
Polyurethane (PU) Films & Tapes
Polyurethane Films and Tapes are commonly referred to as Urethane Film, PU Film, and TPU Film. Due to their overall strength, low-temperature flexibility, and elongation qualities, Polyurethane Films are often used in the medical, food, transportation, and industrial markets. This transparent and elastic film contains no plasticizers, so it retains most of its performance characteristics in long-term applications and can also be formulated for demanding outdoor applications. Polyurethane Films are available in various durometers with more rigid configurations exhibiting excellent moisture, chemical, and abrasive resistance, while lower durometer grades are softer to the touch and ideal for medical applications.
PTFE Polytetrafluoroethylene Film Tape
TFE or PTFE Polytetrafluoroethylene Film, also known as DuPont™ Teflon®, has high dielectric strength and excellent resistance to temperature, abrasion, and chemicals. Used for heat and electrical sealing, it is often referred to as Thread Seal Tape or Plumbers Tape.
Vinyl (PVC) Films & Tapes
Vinyl Films, also known as PVC Polyvinyl Chloride Films, are typically moisture and chemical resistant and can be produced in both rigid and soft configurations. Rigid PVC is mainly used for sealing and soft or flexible PVC is used for marking, insulating and electrical applications. Vinyl Films are often referred to as Electro-Plating Tape, Electrical Tape, Hazard Stripe Tape, Pipe Wire Tape, and Lithographer’s Tape.
Foam Tape Carriers
Foam carriers and foam tapes are versatile cellular materials. Foam is a compressible, resilient, lightweight material created by trapping pockets of air within a natural or synthetic solid such as acrylic, polyethylene, urethane, polyurethane (Poron®), rubber (neoprene, EPDM, SBR), or vinyl.
Open & Closed Cell Foams
Foams are typically divided into two categories: open cell and closed cell. Open-cell foams feature cell walls that are not completely encapsulated and conjoined to one another. Open-cell foams are not only open to one another, but also open to surrounding media, like water, making them more flexible, porous, and absorbent. Due to its cellular structure, open cell foams are less resistant to compression set with weaker recovery performance over time. Closed-cell foams, on the other hand, consist of cells that completely encapsulate the air within with each cell being independent of one another. Closed cell foams are sturdier, waterproof, and are more resistant to compression set with a stronger recovery performance over time.
Both open and closed-cell foams come in a vast range of chemistries, densities, thicknesses, and additional properties to help meet specific product requirements. Each foam material offers unique benefits, including temperature resistance from extreme cold to extreme heat, moisture resistance, UV resistance, and chemical resistance to a variety of solvents. Foam tapes can be either single or double sided with adhesive coated to one or both sides, or foam tapes can be infused with adhesive throughout and within their cellular structure. The flexibility of adhesive foam tapes allows them to tightly bond to a variety of surfaces while compensating for different thermal expansions, shock and vibration, and mechanical movement.
Foam Tape Applications
Both open and closed cell foams are used in a variety of adhesive tape applications, including mountings, gaskets, seals, weather-stripping, and padding. Typically, closed-cell foams are more suited for sealing applications, whereas open-celled foams are better for damping applications. Foams’ versatility makes them the go-to adhesive option for sealing and bonding applications in numerous industries, including automotive, industrial, medical, HVAC, and construction.
Rubber Tape Carriers
Rubber Tape consists of an elastomer polymeric rubber-based material with adhesive backing. Rubber is a viscoelastic blend of polymeric rubber-based materials that can be natural, synthetic, or expanded. Synthetic elastomers include, but are not limited to: Silicone Rubber, Neoprene Rubber, Nitrile Rubber/Buna-N Rubber, Butyl Rubber, EPDM Rubber, SBR Rubber, SBR/EPDM Blended Rubber, and Viton® Rubber. Each type of rubber offers unique characteristics.
Rubber-backed tape can meet common demanding requirements including high-temperature and chemical exposure. Depending on the chemistry and construction, rubber products are often used in gaskets, fluid sealing, electrical insulation, and splicing applications for an array of industries from transportation to biocompatible medical products.
Common adhesive carrier rubber types:
Silicone Rubber is widely used in the medical industry as an insulator against high temperatures and resistance to weather aging, ozone, and chemicals. Learn more about Silicone Rubber.
Neoprene Rubber is a versatile general-use blend of synthetic rubber, commonly used in gasketing and industrial padding where temperature, oil, and flame resistance are required.
Nitrile Rubber / Buna-N Rubber is commonly used in the electrical transformer, food, and sealing industries as they provide high tensile strength and are resistant to oils and acids.
EPDM Rubber is used for outdoor and high ozone environments such as roofing and automotive applications.
Butyl Rubber offers strong adhesion to most surfaces and a waterproof seal and is often used on home repairs from pipes to vents.
SBR Rubber is an inexpensive general-purpose synthetic elastomer used in diverse industrial applications from tires, and conveyor belts to seals and gaskets.
Viton® Rubber, developed by Dupont Company, is a fluoroelastomer that outperforms in very hot and extremely critical corrosive environments.
Cloth or Fabric Tape Carriers
Cloth and fabric tapes can be woven or non-woven. Woven or non-woven fabric tapes consist of cotton, polyester, acetate, nylon, or rayon with acrylic, rubber or silicone adhesive. Fabrics are often coated with foil, PTFE, polyethylene, silicone, rubber, or vinyl to improve tape performance characteristics like flexibility, durability, or water or fire resistance.
Woven fabrics are created by weaving or knitting yarns while nonwoven fabrics are made of natural or synthetic fibers interlocked mechanically, thermally, or chemically. Nonwoven fabrics have diverse properties such as resilience, absorbency, liquid repellency, washability, flame retardancy, cushioning, filtering, or having stretch, acting as a bacterial barrier, or offering sterility. Some nonwoven fabrics can be recycled after use and are often used in health care, apparel, home furnishings, transportation, industrial, and consumer goods.
Foil Tape Carriers
Metal Foils are available in aluminum, copper, and stainless steel. These metal alloys typically provide resistance to flame, extreme temperature, high humidity, UV rays, and most chemicals. Foil Tapes consist of a metal foil backing with acrylic, conductive rubber, or silicone adhesive on one or both sides in any combination. Depending on the chemistry and construction makeup, foil tapes are used for sealing, electrical, or thermally conductive properties. Metal foil tapes are extremely useful in general industrial applications and the construction, electronics, automotive, and aerospace industries.
Aluminum Foil Tapes are often used for sealing and duct wrapping, EMI/RFI shielding in electronic manufacturing, or thermally conductive applications. Aluminum Foil Tapes are available plain or with conductive or non-conductive adhesive in custom sizes and shapes.
Copper Foil Tapes are used for EMI/RFI electro-static shielding and thermally conductive applications. Copper Foil Tapes are available plain or with conductive or non-conductive adhesive in custom sizes and shapes.
Stainless Steel Foil Tapes are used when extreme corrosion or chemical resistance is required. Stainless Steel Foil Tapes are available ferrous (conductive) or nonferrous (non-conductive).
Paper Tape Carriers
Paper Tapes consist of paper-backed materials such as Flatback Paper, Crepe Paper, Tissue Paper, Fish Paper, Kraft Paper, Clay Coat Paper and are coated with an adhesive on one or both sides in any combination. Depending on the application, paper tapes are commonly referred to as Masking Tape, Painters Tape, Drafting Tape, Artist’s Tape, and Packaging Tape.
Paper Tape Applications
Paper-backed tapes are typically used for general-purpose temporary bonding or holding. They can be used for a variety of applications like masking, color coding, splicing, mounting, packaging, and protecting. To create clean lines and prevent paint overspray, masking tapes are often used in automobile and aircraft painting, appliance and furniture manufacturing, decorative glass making, powder coating, sandblasting, and plating. Kraft protective paper tapes, which feature a high tensile strength backing under moist conditions and outdoor weathering, are generally used for masking applications such as screen-printing and printed graphics, as well as for sustainable packaging.
Paper tapes are also used in the medical industry for wound closure and scar healing. Medical adhesive paper tape or surgical tape is hypoallergenic, lightweight, breathable, gentle on sensitive skin, and leaves minimal residue upon removal.
Paper Tape Properties
Generally, paper tapes are conformable, tearable by hand, recyclable, and bond to most surface. Depending on the backing material and adhesive, Paper Tapes offer varying degrees of holding power, removability, and temperature resistance. Paper tapes are manufactured in different grades (economy to premium grades), whereas the adhesion value (low to high tack), thickness, colors, and sizes can be adjusted according to the desired application.
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