Adhesive tapes can be defined as backing materials coated with adhesive. It is important to note that there are very many types of adhesive tapes categorized according to factors such as features, strength, type of adhesive used etc. Adhesive tapes such as pressure sensitive adhesive tapes have special triboluminescence features which makes them observable in the dark. Such tapes are ideal for making surfaces and objects conspicuous in the dark.
Adhesive tapes categorized according to adhesive are made using different types of adhesives depending on application. In summary, there are very many types of adhesive tapes. You should therefore focus on application because you can find just about any type of adhesive tape to suite your needs.
Before going into more detail about adhesive tapes, it is important to take a look at the brief history of adhesive tapes. The adhesive used for making adhesive tapes was first developed by Horace Day in 1845. It is important to note that some publications credit Horace for inventing adhesive tapes however this isn’t the case. He only invented the main component of adhesive tapes which is pressure sensitive adhesive.
The initial/real inventor of adhesive tapes was a German by the name Oscar Troplowitz. He invented adhesive tapes in 1901 while working for a German company called Beiersdorf AG. His first invention was an adhesive patch known as Leukoplast. Years later many companies started manufacturing adhesive tapes after getting their hands on pressure sensitive adhesive.
Types of adhesive tapes
As mentioned above, there are very many types of adhesive tapes. Below are some of the most common types of adhesive tapes in the market today.
1. Pressure sensitive adhesive tape
As the name suggests, pressure sensitive adhesive tape is made using a pressure sensitive adhesive which is coated onto backing material i.e. plastic film, paper, metal foil or cloth. It is important to note that pressure sensitive adhesive tape has many names i.e. pressure sensitive tape, self-stick tape, PSA tape or sticky tape. The tape is sticky without any solvent or heat for adheres and activation with light pressure. It is however important to note that the tape requires a release agent or release liner on their backing for covering the adhesive.
2. Water activated tape
Another common type of adhesive tape is water activated tape. The tape has many names i.e. gummed tape or gummed paper tape. The tape is characterised by starch or animal glue on kraft paper backing. This makes the tape very sticky when moistened hence the name water activated tape. It is important to note that there are many types of water activated tapes i.e. reinforced gummed tape or (RGT). As the name suggests, these types of water activated tapes are reinforced. The most common reinforcement is paper arranged in layers with fibreglass filament cross patterns laminated between.
The most common laminating adhesive in water activated tapes has been asphalt. This has however changed. Today, hot molten atactic polypropylene is the most commonly used laminating adhesive for gummed paper tape. It is important to note that water activated tapes are categorized in ASTM standard specifications i.e. D5749-01(2006)  for plain and reinforced gummed tape used for securing and sealing applications. The tapes usually measure 3 inches in width. The length varies depending on customer specifications.
3. Heat sensitive adhesive tape
This type of adhesive tape is activated by heat hence the name heat sensitive tape. The tape is mostly used for packaging. The most common packaging application example is packing cigarettes. It is important to note that the nature of heat sensitive tape works both ways i.e. can be used to seal or release. Some types of heat sensitive tapes tack and then release fully when they are heated to certain temperatures. Such tapes are common in semiconductor industry applications.
4. Self adhesive tape
This type of adhesive tape is made through polymerization i.e. the tape is a polymer converted by an adhesive on one side. The tape can be used for a variety of applications i.e. offering temporary protection to corrugated boards, window profiles, metal sandwich panels among other metal surfaces preventing scratches. The tape is also used to offer temporary protection against pollution to home appliances such as screens when they are being transported, installed or stored. They tape is ideal because it doesn’t leave any traces when removed.