Tape Tech: Placing a Humble Product Beyond the Competition

Tape Tech: Placing a Humble Product Beyond the Competition

Pressure sensitive tapes might seem humble, but the market for these products is expected to reach a massive $44.6 billion in 2023, according to a new report by The Freedonia Group. Why? Tapes are ubiquitous in modern life in upper-income countries: they hold together cars, appliances, electronics, and even houses.

And, of course, we would be remiss not to mention tape’s equally humble but important partner, the cardboard box. Box sealing tapes alone accounted for 64% of global tape demand in 2018, according to the Freedonia study.

Tapes may seem like a relatively low-tech solution, but tape manufacturers are always looking for ways to give their products a leg up over competitive products – including fasteners, adhesives, and water-activated tapes – via innovation.

Faster, Easier, Better: 3M’s Automated Taping System

Tapes have gained market share over standalone adhesives and fasteners in manufacturing due to their labor saving properties and ease of use. In January 2019, 3M took these advantages one step further by introducing its 3M Automated Taping System. The system consists of a robot – which was developed jointly with Eckhart, an industrial automation firm – that is designed to work collaboratively with humans.

The increased use of automation in industrial tape application has the following potential advantages:

  • further reducing labor in an already highly automated industry
  • reducing the potential for worker repetitive stress injury
  • limiting tape waste

Sustainability in Packaging: Tape Contributes, Too

A number of packaging companies (and the manufacturers they serve) are seeking to improve their green image by offering more sustainable choices. Although consumers typically think in terms of recyclable paperboard and plastics, tape also has a role to play in environmentally friendly packaging. tesapack paper ecoLogo, for instance possesses the following eco-friendly features:

  • It is manufactured using a solvent-free adhesive.
  • The backing is made from unbleached paper.
  • Each roll is made of 100% recycled cardboard.

The company is also a global leader in low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) manufacturing techniques, with tesa claiming to have reduced VOC emissions by 91% between 2001 and 2015.

Box Sealing Tape Manufacturers Are Sticking It to the E-Commerce Competition

Box sealing (also called carton sealing) pressure sensitive tapes continue to dominate the market for shipping tapes across the globe, particularly in price-sensitive areas like China.

However, the rise of e-commerce has given the edge to a longtime competitor – water activated tape, otherwise known as gummed tape, particularly in North America and Western Europe. Water activated tape offers two characteristics key to e-commerce: tamper evidence properties and temperature resistance and is causing carton sealing tape to lose market share in the fast-growing e-commerce space.

However, some pressure sensitive tape manufacturers are fighting back with new products that offer at least some of the same advantages as water-activated tape:

  • tesa’s HighPerSealFX leaves permanent marks on packaging so that, once it’s removed, the packaging can’t be restored to its original condition.
  • 3M’s Scotch High Tack Box Sealing Tape 371+ also provides tamper evidence while also resisting damage from both moisture and abrasion.

Interested in Learning More?

Although tape is a highly mature product in many parts of the world, tape manufacturers continue to innovate and keep their offerings competitive in a rapidly changing landscape. To find out more about trends in the global tape industry, check out Global Pressure Sensitive Tapes, a recent study from The Freedonia Group.

About the Author:

Zoe Biller is an Industry Analyst at the Freedonia Group where she develops and writes reports on the global chemicals, capital goods, and polymers & materials markets.

  Industry Studies      Packaging