No matter what kind of products you handle, you need something to keep their packaging intact. When it comes to ways to seal packaging, you have almost countless options at hand. Such a variety can be helpful, but it can also make it harder to choose the right one.
Adhesives are the gold standard for sealing packaging, but even there, there's plenty of variety. To help you narrow it down, here are some of the most popular adhesives and what they offer.
Selecting the Right Adhesive
There's no one-size-fits-all solution for every packaging need. What constitutes the best adhesive depends on your packaging materials, product, budget and more. Different bonds will fit various needs, so consider these factors before deciding.
If you work with various products and packages, consider what offers more versatility. Otherwise, look for an adhesive that fits your particular strength, safety, application and budgetary needs. With that in mind, here are five of the most widely used bonds that could be right for you:
As the name implies, you can apply pressure-sensitive adhesives with nothing more than pressure. This makes application cheap and straightforward, but also typically leads to a weaker seal. As a result, these adhesives are ideal for easy-open light packaging, but not for heavier materials.
Pressure-sensitive materials are one of two main classifications of adhesives, the other being polymer-based solutions. As a result of the broad categorization, numerous materials like silicone and latex fall under this category, but they share common strengths and weaknesses. In general, these work well with a diverse range of lightweight packaging, but they may be comparatively weak.
Solvent-based adhesives are some of the most popular types of polymer solutions. These are easy to apply and bond quickly, but they come with some safety hazards too. They may release emissions during production, and many are also flammable, so they're not ideal for eco-friendly companies.
These adhesives often carry a chemical odor before they dry, which can be an issue in food packaging. Given their strength and ease of application, though, solvent-based bonds work well with other cardboard or paper packaging. Keep in mind that you may encounter some environmental regulations with these materials.
A common alternative to solvent-based adhesives is water-based solutions. These behave similarly to solvent-based materials but are typically cheaper, safer and more eco-friendly. They set quickly, are strong, offer easy application and can work with numerous packaging materials.
Water-based adhesives are ideal for cardboard and paper packages, as well as paper labels on glass. One downside to them is that they break down in the presence of excess moisture, so they're not an option for long-time storage. If you're dealing with fast-moving, carefully regulated packages, though, they may be the best option.
4. Hot Melt
Hot melt adhesives are some of the most popular bonding materials in the packaging industry. Often cheaper than packaging tape and more versatile than other polymer-based solutions, these bonds have much to offer. They're among the strongest and most resilient adhesives out there.
On the downside, hot melts tend to be harder to handle and may require more training to use. Some hot melt adhesives have an odor, so not all are ideal for food packaging applications. Overall, though, they're one of the most versatile options and are especially helpful for heavier materials.
UV-curable adhesives, one of the newest options, bond when you expose them to ultraviolet light. While you won't see these everywhere, they're rapidly gaining popularity for their eco-friendliness and tendency to reduce waste. They're also fast-curing, strong and shelf-stable, making them rather versatile.
These adhesives work well with various plastics, metals and rubbers. Since they require UV light to cure, they may not be accessible for everyone, and they tend to be more expensive. If you have the budget, though, they can be an excellent option for environmentally conscious package sealing.
Discover the Best Adhesive for You
Adhesives have come a long way since their advent in ancient Egypt, and they keep evolving today. These five options are just a few of the adhesive types you can find on the market. As science progresses, more alternatives emerge and your list of choices keeps expanding.
No matter what kind of materials you use or products you ship, there's an adhesive for you. Hot melts, water-based adhesives and pressure-sensitive solutions will suit numerous shipping needs, but they're not the only ones you have to choose from. Consider all of your available options, including their benefits and disadvantages, and the best solution should become evident.
Megan R. Nichols is a STEM writer and the editor of Schooled By Science. She enjoys writing about the latest news and trends in manufacturing, the supply chain, and science. To keep up with the latest news, follow her on Twitter.