Tape vs Glue

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Problem

One of the questions that always come up for case packers is deciding whether to use tape or glue for your case closure. Both solutions have benefits and disadvantages, so typically, it comes down to your packaging application and preference. This machinery education piece will help you understand the benefits and drawbacks of tape or glue from a machinery perspective.

 

Tape

Tape on case packers is arranged in either a horizontal or vertical orientation depending on the configuration of the case packer (top load or end load). Tape applies to major flaps via a tape head and major flap folding rail system after the minor flaps are closed. Tape heads typically come with sensors that can detect if the tape level is low, a strand of tape did not apply correctly, and a broken tape strand situation.

Top Load Tape

Side Load Tape

Side Load Tape

Benefits

  • Lower capital costs compared to a glue system
  • Less maintenance and spare parts
  • Flap seams are sealed from the environment
  • Do not have to wear protective clothing when changing out tape
  • Decorative tape for marketing purposes
  • Taping can be completed manually offline in the event the case packer goes down
  • Servo motors can actuate adjustment points on tape heads for fast change over
  • Does not require air to operate

Disadvantages

  • Downtime incurred when changing out tape heads
  • Could be damaged during transportation, causing product waste
  • Less efficient on high-speed case packers that are over 20 cases per minute
  • More cumbersome than glue systems when refilling tape heads
  • Case sealing is not as consistent as glue

Glue

Like tape, case packers apply glue on cases via a horizontal or vertical orientation. Glue is melted into viscous form via a hot melt system and delivered to glue guns via hoses. Through a solenoid valve and glue gun, the adhesive applies to the case’s minor flaps. The case will dwell, and compression cylinders will seal the major flaps onto the minor flaps creating the closure. Case packer glue systems can be programmed through the systems’ HMI to change bead lengths and positions.

Top Load Glue

Wrap Around Glue

Side Load Glue

 Benefits

  • Can run high-speed case packing operations at over 20 cases per minute
  • Material is less expensive – typically cost 50-75% less than packaging tape
  • Provides higher structural strength – necessary for heavy packages and reduces waste during transportation
  • Customer experience – open package without knife or scissors
  • Appearance – professional-looking seal, no cracks or folds in tape
  • Do not have to stop the case packer to refill the glue tank
  • More flexibility in terms of different adhesives and glue guns
  • Change over can be completed automatically through the use of servo motors
  •  

Disadvantages

  • Higher capital costs
  • Uses compressed air – potentially higher operating costs
  • Operators need to wear protective equipment when refilling the glue tank
  • More spare parts compared to a tape head, including solenoids, glue guns, etc
  • Operator training on glue systems is more intensive compared to tape heads
  • Potentially extra cleaning on glue guns and machine frame

Conclusion

To summarize, glue and tape both have benefits and drawbacks for your production line. The key is determining what is suitable for your unique packaging application. When you have any doubt on which style to use, an equipment or material manufacturer can help in guiding you to the correct decision. If you are still in doubt, AFA Systems has designed machines to run glue or tape-style cases on the same machine. This method is a more expensive route but can give your line flexibility to accommodate changing demands. The video on the system is here:

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