Tips for Storing Adhesive Tape

Many people are surprised to hear adhesive tape products do have a shelf life. Shelf life varies per product, but you will find with proper packaging and storage your pressure sensitive adhesive tapes can last well past their shelf life and perform without any issues. The primary cause for variances in shelf life for tapes is the composition of the tape itself; the adhesive system, the backing, and release liner if it has one. Here are a few key tape storage techniques that will help you maximize the performance of your products and give you the most for your investment.

1. Store Tape Away from Light.

Avoid exposure to direct sunlight. Always store tape rolls indoors. Do not leave your tape near the window where it can soak in UV rays for a prolonged period of time. Ultraviolet light can even penetrate the packaging over time. Ultraviolet light can affect the chemistry of a tape’s adhesive and cause tape strands to become hard and brittle or melt and dry out.

2. Store Tape in a Cool, Dry Place.

Try to avoid both extreme heat and cold. High heat can cause a tape’s adhesive system to become a sticky mess. At the other extreme, if left in vehicles during freezing temperatures your tape’s adhesive may become too brittle to work. Extreme High or low temperature exposure can change the desired performance of a tape. When they get very hot (above 150F), the adhesive will begin to flow and may thin out and/or ooze beyond the liner. When they get very cold (below 20F), the adhesive will harden and if applied before restoring to room temperature, they may not adhere well. If you keep tape in storage, take it out of storage a day or two before you need it to let it recover to room temperature. Many manufacturers say tape maintains its characteristics best where temps are cooler, preferably 60°F/15°C. Also, make sure to keep your tape dry. Even the presence of moisture in the air can contribute to a chemical reaction. Tapes are generally stored in warehouses. Some of these warehouses are temperature and even humidity controlled. Many of them are not. Warehouses can experience large swings in temperature and humidity as the seasons change. If your warehouse sees large swings in temperature, particularly high temperatures over 95°F, the tape is likely experiencing accelerated aging. Generally speaking, it’s best to keep tape at 68 – 72° F / 20 – 22° C and 50-70% relative humidity.

3. Maintain a Tape Rotation System.

It is advised to store your tape in such a way that you know when each lot was delivered so that you can use the oldest tape first. Accounting experts talk about “First In, First Out” (FIFO) methods and the same principal is a best practice for warehouse tape inventory. No matter how well you take care of your tape, you cannot maintain its reliability indefinitely. Devise a labeling system so that you use the oldest tape first to yield the best value out of your adhesive tapes.

5. Store Tape in Original Packaging.

Don’t open adhesive tapes if you plan on using them at a later date. Ensuring an airtight seal around tape reduces the effects of oxygen across adhesive layers. Keeping adhesive tape in its original packaging also keeps it from being exposed to dirt and dust. This helps to make sure that the adhesive is free from contaminants, which could affect its bond.

6. Follow Supplier Storage Recommendations.

Find out from your supplier what a safe height would be to stack the cases of tape and the skids on top of one another. Certain tapes can be crushed and badly damaged when the boxes are overloaded. Ideally, the storage should be on racks and take up just one skid. Rolls store flat in their original packaging; spools should be stored with the arrows on the box in the correct position.

The best way to understand how to store tapes is to speak with a knowledgeable tape converter. A converting partner who can provide Just In Time shipping options and who maintains a sufficient inventory can limit your need to store tape and can guarantee you get the best performance from your products and the most out of your adhesive tape investment.