The reusable protective packaging market has grown in recent years. Not only do businesses want to safely distribute products throughout the supply chain, they want to do so in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way.
According to a report by Research and Markets, a major trend in the protective packaging market is increased research and development (R&D) investment to develop more environmentally friendly and sustainable protective packaging materials, specifically those that can be recycled and reused.1 Reusing products and materials for as long as possible reduces the need for primary materials, as well as the environmental footprint of material use, suggesting that reusable packaging can significantly reduce environmental impact.
Historically, reusable forms of protective packaging have been used in applications for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer needs. However, with the increasing trend for even more reusable protective packaging options, another trend is also emerging—growth in pressure-sensitive adhesives (PSAs) for reusable protective packaging applications.
Increased Demand for PSA Tapes
PSA manufacturers and suppliers are seeing notable increases in demand for PSA tapes in reusable protective packaging applications across a wide spectrum of need, particularly for higher-value applications such as transport or automotive. These customers need to package and provide safe, damage-free transport of their high-value goods from one place to another repeatedly, often via crates, pallets, shelving systems, protective casings, and more.
Many of these companies have found that using PSA tapes for their adhesion needs is a more optimal choice than PSA alternatives such as liquid or spray adhesive products. The challenge with a lot of higher-value applications is that the adhesive needs to bond extremely well to substrates that are typically more difficult to adhere to, such as open- and closed-cell foams like expanded polystyrene and crosslinked polyethylene, corrugated materials, fabric and textiles, metal and steel, dunnage and wood, and plastic. Compared to other solutions, high-quality PSAs have a reputation for performing well under these challenging conditions.
For instance, one company in the automotive industry wanted to create a reusable metal shelving system for storage and transportation of car parts between manufacturing facilities. The shelves on the units were lined with a brushed polyester fabric to help protect and minimize damage to the parts during storage and transportation. The customer needed an adhesive solution that would successfully bond to the polyester fabric and then, once laminated to the fabric, bond to the metal (the primary material used to assemble the shelving system). A double-coated PSA tape was recommended, and the solution has been highly successful.*
Similar applications for returnable steel rack systems require having a foam laminated to the racking system for added product protection. Other protective, reusable packaging applications include:
- Insulated cartons with corrugated and foam inserts for automotive-related transport
- Bins or totes with foam inserts for shipping powder-coated or painted parts
- Custom crate systems with foam or adhesive padding to transport large appliances
- Protective cases with polyether or polyurethane foams for transporting firearms, musical equipment, and industrial machinery
In addition to superior performance benefits, PSAs also deliver a cost advantage. In packaging applications, brand owners face cost constraints as they aim to find the ideal balance of efficiency of assembly, cost of materials, and cost to customer. While the initial upfront cost of PSA tapes may be slightly higher than other adhesive solutions, the long-term benefits outweigh initial costs—saving brand owners more in the long run.
For example, PSA tapes require less adhesive drying time than other adhesive products. PSA tapes can be applied almost immediately, as they are already fully cured and dried at the time of application. In contrast, spray adhesives can take anywhere from 1 hr to a full day to completely dry. Also, because there are no residual fumes or adhesive outgassing present when applying PSA tapes, they are a safer solution compared with spray adhesives.
PSA tapes are easier to handle than spray or liquid adhesives and make it easier to correct potential application problems in real time. With double-coated PSA tapes especially, there is greater opportunity to pull off or remove the adhesive from the bonded substrate and re-laminate it, if necessary. Adhesive open times vary depending on the chemistry of the chosen PSA, which can come in handy if tapes are initially applied incorrectly.
Another benefit of PSA tapes is that many PSAs provide a more robust adhesive solution than other adhesive options. By ensuring a consistent adhesive profile, maximum bond strength, and adhesion longevity that will last the duration of the end-use application, PSA tapes are more likely to meet the demands of reusable protective packaging applications.
Choosing the Right PSA
As with any packaging application, choosing the right PSA tape for reusable protective packaging depends on the need of the specific application and the materials that are being bonded together. It is always recommended to consult the PSA supplier to ensure the best adhesion results.
In addition, it is important to partner with a supplier that is knowledgeable in the various material substrates commonly used for these types of bonding applications. An ideal supplier should be innovative, creative, and forward-thinking, always looking ahead for new or unique uses for its products. In addition, the supplier should have a reputation for working closely with leaders in the reusable packaging space to analyze materials and ensure understanding of the most current trends to develop products that are compatible with those materials.
- “Protective Packaging Market in the US 2015-2019,” Research and Markets, www.researchandmarkets.com.
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