PSA Tape Components & Construction
Learn what makes tape stick!
Pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) tapes consist of a backing material coated on one or both sides with a permanent or temporary acrylic, rubber, or silicone adhesive, often supplied with a release liner. Depending on the component’s chemistry and the construction configuration, adhesive tapes are used for a wide range of applications.
What is Pressure Sensitive Adhesive Tape?
The Pressure Sensitive Tape Council (PSTC) define PSA tape as a continuous flexible strip of cloth, paper, metal, film, or foam coated on one or both sides with a permanently tacky adhesive at room temperature that will adhere to a variety of surfaces with light finger pressure.
PSA tapes do not require activation by water, solvent, or heat. They work because of three unique properties: Adhesion, Cohesion, and Tack. These three properties balance each other out and can’t work without one another, meaning that it is impossible to have a tape with 100% of each. Adhesion is the bonding strength of the adhesive to the substrate. Cohesion is the inner strength of the adhesive. Tack is the immediate grip of the tape (adhesive) to the substrate (object).
When defining a type of PSA (Pressure Sensitive Adhesive) Tape, it comes down to its components & construction. There are typically three components: the Adhesive, the Carrier or Backing Material, and the Release Liner. Not all tapes will feature all the components. There are also three standard constructions of tape: adhesive transfer, single coated tape, and double-coated tape.
Adhesive Transfer Tape, also known as unsupported PSA tape, consists of pressure-sensitive adhesive pre-applied to a special release liner. The release liners are commonly paper-treated on both sides with silicone release agents so that the liner can be easily peeled off. Acrylic adhesives are commonly used in this application. Learn More.
Single-Sided Tape, also known as Single-Coated Tape or Single-Faced Tape, is a pressure-sensitive tape consisting of film, foam, foil, cloth, or paper face stock with rubber, acrylic or silicone adhesive on one side, and either has a silicone release liner or is self-wound. Learn More.
Double-Sided Tape, also known as Double-Coated Tape or Double-Faced Tape is a pressure-sensitive tape consisting of film, foam, paper, cloth, or a foil carrier, with an acrylic, rubber or silicone adhesive coated on both sides in any combination. Differential Adhesive Tapes have different adhesives on each side of the carrier, some for clean removal applications, and others for bonding to incompatible surfaces. Learn More.
Types of Adhesives
There are three main groups of adhesives used in PSA tapes: rubber, acrylic, and silicone adhesive systems. Polymers can be a blend of natural or synthetic materials, with or without additives. The adhesive is coated on one or both sides of the backing material. When needing to bond to different energy surfaces, differential acrylic/rubber adhesives may be used. Each type of adhesive has different characteristics that affect production and end-user performance.
Rubber-based pressure-sensitive adhesive systems typically bond to a wide variety of substrates, including low surface energy materials, and satisfy most adhesion requirements. Due to their low-temperature range, poor UV and chemical resistance, they are best for indoor applications.
Rubber-based adhesives are divided into natural and synthetic rubber.
- Natural Rubber typically offers the highest adhesion and shear properties, compared to acrylic adhesives.
- Synthetic Rubber is broken down into three groups.
- Hot melt has low-temperature resistance and ages poorly.
- Solvent rubber has better temperature and aging performance, but still poor UV resistance.
- Butyl rubber offers excellent UV and aging resistance, but lower mechanical strength.
Acrylic-based adhesive systems are more versatile and a little higher cost than rubber-based systems. While rubber-based adhesives have a higher initial bond, the acrylic pressure sensitive adhesives go through a 24-hour cure cycle, allowing the bond to continue to improve over time.
Acrylic adhesives can either be Water-based, also referred to as Emulsion or Dispersion, or Solvent-based. Modified acrylics typically have superior adhesion to a wider variety of surfaces.
- Water-based are slower drying compared to solvent-based systems.
- Solvent-based systems are generally better resistant to solvents, chemicals, and water.
- Pure acrylic, also known as standard acrylic, have a lower tack and less adhesion to low-energy surfaces than modified acrylic or rubber adhesives.
Compared to acrylic and rubber adhesive, silicone is significantly more expensive. Silicone bonds to fewer substrates, but due to their excellent high temperature performance and chemical resistance, they are well suited for splicing tapes, polyimide tapes and medical applications, to name a few.
Medical Grade Adhesives
- Silicone Gels
Types of Backing Materials
A backing material, also referred to as facestock, carrier, or substrate, is a thin, flexible material that can be coated with an adhesive. A substrate can be made of cloth, non-woven material, film, metal foil, foam, rubber, paper, or laminate. These flexible materials offer a wide choice of performance and handling characteristics. When selecting a backing material, consider the thickness, strength, conformability, color and resistance to temperature, solvents, chemicals, moisture, and abrasion.
The release liner is the backbone of the pressure-sensitive product that protects the adhesive until it is applied. It provides a supporting role as a vehicle for the adhesive during the coating, slitting, and converting processes. Ultimately, the liner is disposed of by the end-user. A liner is typically used for double-sided tapes but is sometimes found on single-sided tapes as well.
The release liner is commonly a paper or film that has been coated on one or both sides with a silicone release agent. This coating allows the tape to unwind from the roll. Without a release coating, the tape would adhere to its own backing, and would not unwind. Siliconized paper is the main type of release liner. The siliconized film is also used in applications requiring greater flexibility and high tensile strength.
Browse the MBK Catalog
There are hundreds of different types of tapes on the market, and MBK sources the material according to the application requirements. Depending on the chemistry and combination of materials, each tape offers unique attributes and is used for an array of applications in all industries. Tapes are often referred to by their application, construction, or material composition.
We have provided you with several ways to search for the material that best meets your application. In the MBK catalog, you can search by material, application, or unique characteristics (specialty adhesives) for the product that best meets your specifications. Learn More by clicking each category below.
Converting Adds Value to Adhesive Tapes
MBK Tape Solutions adds value to the material by converting it into useful products, making it easier to handle and cost-effective assembly solutions. MBK sources and stocks jumbo rolls and sheets, ready to be custom fabricated according to your specifications. Products are available with or without adhesive in any size, shape, or configuration on rolls, sheets, or pieces. Call us today at 818-998-1477 to speak to our sales engineers.