Why Doesn’t Adhesive Tape Stick in the Cold?

Why Doesn’t Adhesive Tape Stick in the Cold?

Many of the tapes do not work properly if ideal conditions are not present. These performance issues become severe in cold climate conditions and even heavy duty tapes suffer in harsh weather conditions. Few of the common problems that you have to face in cold weather conditions include:

  • Adhesive tape that does not stick properly
  • The custom tape becomes very brittle and dry
  • It offers very little or absolutely no tack and as such does not stick

These issues result in a waste of time, as well as compromise the quality of the project that you are able to deliver. There are tapes available that use varied adhesives and this becomes an important factor in determining how well or poorly the sticky tape reacts under cold conditions.

In the following sections let us explore the reasons why tapes do not stick in cold conditions and how this problem can be solved.

Why does adhesive tape function poorly in cold conditions?

Before moving onto the topic of the function of adhesive tape in cold weather, let us explore how the adhesive in these tapes works.

Basically, the adhesive in adhesive tape consists of two components, solid and liquid (and is called viscoelastic). The role of the liquid component is to provide the necessary stickiness or tack, so that the tape achieves proper initial contact and the other solid component helps the tape resist any type of force so that it cannot be easily removed.

But, in cold weather conditions what happens is that the liquid component hardens. In this type of situation, sticky tape loses the tackiness it has, as well as it’s natural form.

As such, it is not able to make the required contact necessary for achieving a strong level of adhesion. In case the temperature continually drops, then the tape will freeze and its liquid part will turn into a tack-less solid.

In which conditions and temperature does the custom tape freeze?

If a custom tape freezes will largely depend upon the type of adhesive tape used. Normally, the adhesive in the tape freezes well before the temperature at which water freezes is reached. However, if a tape has been designed specifically for these weather conditions, then it will continue to work even in freezing temperatures.

Another thing to keep note of here is the environment in which the sealed cartons are to be stored.

In a situation where the cartons are already being stored in colder temperatures well before the sticky tape has been applied, then it is likely that the adhesive in the tape will soon become brittle as well as lose its tackiness.

This will eventually result in tape failure.

What are the options when the tape doesn’t stick due to cold weather conditions?

There are basically two things that can be done when there are extreme weather conditions. Let us explore the details in this section.

  • Increase temperature of the surface as well as of the tape to about twenty degrees Celsius.
  • Purchase a custom tape that has been specifically designed as well as engineered so that it can function in cold conditions.

Additionally, many times the need arises to store cartons in an unheated warehouse during the winter season or perishable items are to be blast frozen or refrigerated after they are packaged.

In these situations, the best thing to do will be to purchase custom tapes that have been specially formulated so that they can be used in applications where cold temperature conditions are involved. For instance, hot melt tapes are the right option for sealing cartons in an industrial setting where temperatures range from 20O F to 75O F.

This type of tape is also useful where the storage temperature goes up to -20O F.

What is pressure-sensitive adhesive?

Normally, adhesive tapes are made using what is known as pressure-sensitive adhesive or PSA. PSA adhesion greatly depends upon the adhesive’s wetting ability. If the tape’s wetting ability is better, then the tape is able to cover a greater surface area and higher bond strength can be achieved.

It is worth mentioning here that many of the adhesive tapes that are used need at least 15O C as their application temperature and the ideal temperature is between 20O C to 40O C.  When these temperature conditions exist, the PSA is able to provide a better bond strength.

In addition, for the adhesive to work properly these conditions must exist for both the substrate and the adhesive. If there are cold conditions, then the wetting ability of the adhesive goes down and it loses its effectiveness.

What are the different components of an adhesive tape?

Let us look at the main components of adhesive tapes which play an important role in making the tape stick to a surface.

  • Backing: Backing is made using a material that prevents it from sticking to our fingers. The material used varies but generally, it is paper, plastic, or cloth that is used as backing material.
  • Primer: Adhesive primer is generally applied on tapes backing to ensure that the adhesive sticks properly to the backing after the tape is applied.
  • Adhesive: It is a thin layer consisting of the main adhesive that is applied over the backing material.
  • Release Coating: All adhesives have a covering of anti-cohesion substance such as polyvinyl carbamate and this substance is responsible for keeping the tape from sticking onto itself when the tape is rolled up.

Is there a difference between adhesion and cohesion in tapes?

In adhesion, different molecules stick to each other whereas, in the case of cohesion, the molecules stick onto themselves. During the manufacturing of tapes, both adhesion and cohesion are used.

Molecules present in the adhesive stick to the molecules of the substrate and in addition, they also stick with each other. This characteristic helps the adhesive substance hold together. On the other hand, release coating applied to the tape helps stop cohesion on the tape’s surface so that it is easier to unroll the tape.

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