Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Water-Activated Tape?

Water-activated tape (WAT), also known as gummed tape, paper tape and brown tape, is a form of paper tape with a water-based chemical adhesive that is activated by water. It is made with plain Kraft paper for light cartons or with several layers of paper and reinforcement for heavy cartons.  When the water-activated adhesive is applied to a carton, a capillary action literally bonds the tape to the carton. This permanent bond is tamper-resistant and tamper-evident. WAT is not affected by dirt, dust, oil or extreme temperature environments. To learn more about water-activated tape, visit tour parent company’s website,  Intertape Polymer Group (IPG), is the leading manufacturer of WAT.

What is Pressure-Sensitive Tape?

Pressure sensitive tape (PST) is a continuous flexible strip of cloth, paper, metal plastic or foam coated on one or both sides with a permanently tacky adhesive .  This tape type adheres to a most clean and dry surfaces when light pressure is applied.  The most commonly used PST adhesives are rubber, acrylics and silicone.  Rubber, both natural and synthetic is versatile, general purpose adhesive that is known for its elastic quality.  It is not recommended for high heat applications.   Acrylic adhesives formulated with acrylic polymers generally offer more resistance to solvents and environmental factors.  They typically develop a stronger bond than rubber and can withstand higher temperatures.  Silicone is formulated with silicone polymer and is the only adhesive that will bond well with silicone substrates.  Silicones can withstand higher temperatures than either rubber or acrylic adhesive.

How Much Do Your Water-Activated Tape Dispensers’ Cost?

The current list price for manual tape dispensers range from $133.00 to $455.00 (without a heater).  Electric tape dispensers are more costly and the current list prices range from $1,215.00 to $1,650.00. As a customer, the price you’ll pay depends on the vendor you choose to buy from. Please note, Better Packages does not sell its dispensers direct to customers.

Can I Lease a Better Pack Water-Activated Tape Dispenser?

Better Packages does not have an equipment leasing program.

How Do I Apply Water-Activated Tape To a Carton?

  1. Grab the tape on the sides in the middle of the tape length; apply the tape on the carton within 3-5 seconds for optimal adhesion.
  2. Place the tape on the carton seam and smooth from the middle of the carton, moving to the ends
  3. Make sure the tape is smoothed out completely
  4. Allow the tape to set for several seconds.

How Do I Buy a Better Pack Tape Dispenser?

Better Packages’ water-activated tape dispensing machines are sold internationally through our global Authorized Distributor network. Dispensers can also be purchased through a variety of industrial catalogs and Amazon. Click here to find a variety of Authorized Sources.

Should I Buy a Manual or an Electric Tape Dispenser?

The answer to this question depends upon your applications. To help you in your decision-making, click here to take a quick quiz and we’ll provide you with dispenser recommendations based upon your situation. In general, electric dispenser will be easier to use, faster (more productive), and will provide more consistent performance. Electric dispensers do require electricity while manual dispensers do not. Manual dispensers are generally used in low volume and occasional use applications, while electric dispensers are used in higher volume environments. Electric dispensers cost more than manual dispensers initially, but higher productivity and performance frequently offset this higher cost. Better Pack dispensers have a useful life of at least 8 to 12 years, so the “cost per carton sealed” is minor over the life of the machine.

Are Packers More Productive Using Pressure Sensitive Tape or Water-Activated Tape for Carton Sealing?

For in-line operations and hand applications,  a water-activated tape dispenser is superior to the pressure sensitive tape handgun. Independent testing shows that water-activated tape dispensers are 21% more productive than hand-held tape guns, click here to read the complete SGS Independent Test. However, when referring to high speed case sealers, pressure-sensitive tape sticks faster because water-activated tape needs a brief moment for the adhesives to penetrate the carton.

Is Pressure-Sensitive Plastic Tape Less Expensive Than Water-Activated Gummed Tape?

Looking strictly on a “ cost per foot basis”, pressure-sensitive tape may seem less expensive. However, the most commonly used pressure-sensitive tape used is 2 inches wide while most water-activated tape used for carton sealing is 3 inches wide.  Three-inch-wide plastic tape is just about the same price as three-inch wide water-activated tape.  In practical applications, most packers will use at least two strips, not one, of 2-inch wide plastic tape. That quickly makes the plastic tape’s cost-per-carton sealed more expensive than 3-inch wide strip of reinforced tape, which never needs a second strip across the same seam.

What is The Relative Security of Pressure-Sensitive Tape Versus Water-Activated Tape?

From a security perspective, all pressure sensitive tapes can be defeated with a heat source like a blow dryer. Unknown to the shipper or receiver, packages can be opened and re-sealed. Besides goods being removed from cartons due to theft, unwanted materials could be placed inside, creating possible security or health risk. Water-activated tape bonds to the carton and is tamper-evident. Therefore, if cartons are compromised during shipment there is generally evidence indicating a compromise has been made to the carton and its contents.

Are There Operator Safety Issues to Consider?

Packers using a handheld tape gun to apply pressure sensitive tape may suffer from repetitive motion injury, also known as carpal tunnel syndrome.  These tape guns are heavy and become awkward to use over time.  Repetitive motion injury often sidelines workers, creates significant health care costs and employee substitution expenses. Packers who are using water-activated tape dispensers do not face this risk because using the equipment does not require any awkward movements.

What Type of Packages Can I Secure with Water-Activated Tape?

Water-activated tape is used to secure corrugated cartons and paper or cardboard shipping envelopes.

Are There Certain Cartons upon Which Water-Activated Tape is Not Typically Used?

Yes. These include consumer type glossy, printed cardboard containers, where the sender’s logo might be covered because water-activated tape is not transparent.

What Type of Companies Use Water-Activated Tape?

Ecommerce and ship-from-store companies are increasingly using water-activated tape to seal their cartons. Virtually any company can use water-activated tape to ship its products. Companies have a variety of reasons for choosing to use water-activated tape including tamper-evidence, theft avoidance, branding their cartons, increased sustainability, strength and employee safety.  Industries using water-activated tape include food, clothing, health care, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, electronics, public safety, jewelry, furniture, homeland security, defense industries.

How Do I Buy Replacement Parts and/or Service For My Better Pack Machine?

Many of our Authorized Distributors are fully trained and stocked to provide service and parts. Visit Contact Us to find a Distributor that provides service worldwide or to discuss obtaining factory service from Better Packages directly in Ansonia, CT.   Many genuine Better Pack parts can be purchased on our website. It is important to note that it is critical to use only genuine Better Pack parts in order to maintain your equipment warranty and to keep your dispenser working in tip-top shape.

How Old is My Machine? Is it Worth Repairing?

Better Pack machines are identified by a serial number. To determine the serial number and whether it makes economic sense to have your machine repaired or to purchase a new machine, you can contact your local Authorized Distributor or Better Packages’ Customer Service Department to discuss.

What Are the Options For Sealing Corrugated Cartons?

The answer depends upon your application. While Better Pack dispensers and water-activated tape provide the best, most secure seal under almost all conditions, your application may be better served by some other method. Visit our About Carton Sealing for further information on all methods of carton sealing.