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Tape Glossary

This glossary has been compiled internally by Budnick using information from the PSTC, manufacturers, and other sources.


Abrasion Resistance – The ability of a tape to withstand rubbing and still function satisfactorily.
Acrylic – A synthetic polymer with excellent aging characteristics that can be used as either a single component adhesive or a coating or saturant, depending upon composition.
Adhesion – A bond produced between a pressure sensitive adhesive and a surface.
Adhesive – Any material that will usefully hold two or more objects together solely by intimate surface contact.
Adhesive transfer – The transfer of adhesive from its usual position on the tape to the surface to which the tape was attached, either during unwind or removal.
Anchorage – The specific adhesion of a pressure sensitive adhesive to a face material or an anchor coat.

Backing (Carrier) – A relatively thin flexible material to which the adhesive is applied.  Theoretically, any material that is reasonably flat, relatively thin, and flexible could be used as a tape backing.
Backscoring (Crack & Peel) – Cutting the bottom release liner in such a way as to aid in the dispensing or applying of the product. 
Baloney (Lathe) Slitting – This process utilized standard length log rolls, cutting through both tape and core roll after roll.  This method allows for quicker change-over to different tapes and enables the converter to produce smaller quantities of a particular size than rewind slitting.
Bi-Directional – Related to strapping tapes, in which the reinforcing material consists of filaments in both the length and the cross directions, usually a woven cloth.
Bleeding – Penetration through the tape of a coloring liquid (paint, etc.) onto the surface to which the tape is applied.
Bursting Strength – The ability of a tape to resist damage when a force is applied evenly and perpendicularly to the surface of a tape.

Carrier – Sometimes used to refer to the backing material, particularly in double-faced tapes.
Coating Weight – The weight of a coating per unit area.
Cohesion (cohesive strength, internal bond) – The ability of the adhesive to resist splitting.  Good cohesion is necessary for clean removal.
Converter (Fabricator) – One who modified products to enhance their value and final usage.  Products can be modified primarily by:  laminating, die-cutting to custom shape, precision slitting, adding/removing liners & cutting pieces to length.
Corona Treatment – A process that alters the surface of a material or its surface energy by exposing that material to a high voltage electrical discharge treatment.  Typically used to raise the surface energy of films such as polyethylene or polypropylene to obtain better adhesion of inks, adhesive and other coatings.  High energy surfaces permit better wet-out (contact) of the coating than low energy surfaces.
Creep – A slow movement of the adhesive or backing under stress.
Creped – Paper that has small “folds” in it, giving it high stretch.
Cross-Linked (Cured) – The development of a three-dimensional structure in an adhesive, which is activated normally by heat.  An improvement in shear resistance, high temperature resistance, and oil or solvent resistance will normally result.
Cupping – A slight U-shaped deformation of the tape (at right angles to the length) which usually appears after unwind tension is relaxed.
Curling – The tendency of a tape to curl back on itself when unwound from the roll and allowed to hang from the roll.

Delamination – A separation of the backing into two distinct layers, separation between laminations of a tape consisting of more than one backing, or the separation between filaments and backing of a filament-reinforced tape.
Die-cutting – Process by which any shape, pattern or design can be cut out of various pressure-sensitive tapes, utilizing customer-made dies.
Double Coated Tape – A pressure–sensitive tape consisting of a carrier with adhesive coated on both sides. Typically, a liner is necessary to unwind the roll.
Dry Edge – See Extended Liner

Edge Curl – The peeling back or lifting of the outer edge of a tape after application.  See cupping.
Elastomer – An elastic, polymeric substance, such as a natural or synthetic rubber.
Elongation – The amount a tape can stretch without breaking, expressed in a percentage.
Extended Liner (Dry Edge) – Refers to the liner width extending beyond the actual adhesive tape width, for easy liner removal.  Also referred to as finger lift liner.

Feathering – a jagged, irregular point line frequently characterized by small “feathers” of the top-coat projecting into the masked area.
Filaments – Longitudinal “threads” of glass, polyester, nylon or other high-strength materials.
Film – Uniform, homogeneous, non-fibrous synthetic webs.
Flagged Rolls – Used to identify a bad spot in the roll for internal processing (or possibly a splice).
Flagging – A peeling away from the surface of the end of a length of tape, particularly in a spiral-wrap application.
Flame Resistance – The ability of a tape to withstand exposure to flame.  Fireproof materials will not burn even when exposed to flame.  Flame-resistant (fire-retardant, self-extinguishing) materials will burn when exposed to flame but will not continue to burn after the flame is removed.
Flatback – Smooth paper backing.
Fluorocarbon Films – A film with very high and low-temperature limits, excellent electrical characteristics and very slippery, non-sticking surface.  One example is DuPont’s Teflon (polytetrafluoroethylene).
Fluting – Distortion of a roll of tape such that layers no longer form a circle.
Foam – A soft, cushiony material formed by creating bubbles in the base materials, such as natural or synthetic rubbers, or other elastomeric materials.

Gapping – Opening between layers of tape within a roll.
Gloss – A light reflection characteristic of tape backings, usually expressed by such terms as glossy, low gloss, matter, etc.

High-speed Unwind – Unwinding or dispensing of tapes at a relatively high rate of speed, usually more than 50 feet per minute.
Hot Melt (pressure sensitive adhesive) – a pressure sensitive adhesive, applied to the backing in a hot molten form, that cools to form a conventional pressure sensitive adhesive.
Holding Power (Shear Adhesion) – The ability of a tape to resist the static forces applied in the same plane as the backing.  Usually expressed in a time required for a given weight to cause a given among of tape to come loose from a vertical panel.

Impact Resistance – The ability of a tape to resist sudden impacts, pulls or shocks as may sometimes be encountered by packages in transit.
Insulating Tape – Normally refers to tape used for electrical insulation.
Insulation Resistance – The ability of the tape to prevent the flow of electrical current across its surface, usually measured on the backing.

Kiss-cutting – Die-cutting process by which only the actual usable part remains on the liner; all waste (matrix) around the die-cuts is removed to allow for easy removal.
Kraft – A sulfate wood pulp paper.  See Saturation.

Label Stock – Pressure sensitive materials that are usually printed, frequently die-cut, furnished in roll or sheet form with a liner, and intended for use as labels.
Laminating – Joining of several layers of different materials utilizing pressure-sensitive tapes.
Lifting – A situation where a section of tape has pulled away from the surface to which it has been applied.

Matrix – Scrap material that is left after a die cuts a pattern.  Usually removed and thrown away.
Metal Foil – Thin, flexible sheets of metal, such as aluminum and lead, used as tape backings because of inherent properties such as weather resistance, reflectivity, etc.
Migration – The movement, over a long periods time, of an ingredient from one component to another when the two are in surface contact.  May occur between tape components or between a tape and the surface to which it is applied.  Some plastic films and foams contain plasticizers which are apt to migrate into the tape adhesive, causing the adhesive to soften.

Non-Oriented – A material that has yet to be stretched or expanded to its maximum size.

Off-Core – Layers of tape are in correct alignment, but tape is displaced sideways on the core.
Offsetting – Occurs when a printed tape is unwound and some of the printing ink is picked off by the adhesive or migrates into the adhesive.  It is, in effect, a delamination of the ink.
Oozing – A “squeezing out” of the adhesive from under the backing. It occurs when the edges of a roll become tacky.
Out-Gassing – The release of volatile components under heat or vacuum.
Over-run – A quantity of material more than the amount ordered.  Trade practices permit +/- 10% tolerance for customer over-runs and under-runs.

Pancake-wound rolls – Most typical supply form for pressure-sensitive tapes.  Each layer of tape is directly on top of the last one (with or without a liner).
Peaking – Large singular upheavals in the outer layers of a roll of tape.
Peel/Adhesion Test– The measurement of the adhesive or bond strength between two materials, expressed in ounces/inch.
Plain cloth – Fabric is woven from cotton, glass, or other fibers without further treatment.
Polyethylene (PE) – A tough, stretchy film having very good low-temperature characteristics.
Polyester – A strong film having good resistance to moisture, solvents, oils, caustics, and many other chemicals.  It is usually transparent.
Polypropylene (PP) – A cousin of polyethylene, with generally similar properties, but stronger and having a higher temperature resistance.
Polyurethane Foam – Closed cell foam with adhesive on two sides, used in permanent bonding applications, to replace mechanical fasteners, epoxies and screws.
Perforating – Hole-punching the release liner, usually between kiss-cut parts.
Pressure Sensitive – A term commonly used to designate a distinct category of adhesive tapes and adhesives, which, in dry (solvent-free) form, are aggressively and permanently tacky at room temperature and firmly adhere to a variety of dissimilar surfaces upon mere contact without the need of more than finger or hand pressure.  They require no activation by water, solvent, or heat to exert a strong adhesive holding force toward such material as paper, plastic, glass, wood, cement, and metals.  They have a sufficiently cohesive holding an elastic nature so that, despite their aggressive tackiness, they can be handled with the fingers and removed from smooth surfaces without leaving a residue. 
Pressure Sensitive Tape – A combination of a pressure sensitive adhesive and a backing.
Primer – A primer is used to increase the bond of the adhesive to the backing.  The use of a primer assists in keeping the adhesive on the backing when a tape is removed.
Printability – The ability of a tape to accept and hold a printed legend and especially to resist offset of the printing when rewound into a roll after printing.

Reinforcements – A material added to a tape to provide additional strength.
Release Coating (easy unwind treatment) – A coating applied to the backing on the side opposite the adhesive that provides ease of unwind and prevents delaminating or tearing.  Without a release coating, the tape would adhere to its own back and would not unwind.
Release Coat Transfer (Silicone Transfer) – Particles of the release coat stick to the adhesive on unwind; the resulting tape will have little or no ability to stick.
Release Liner – Siliconized paper or film coated on one or both sides that protects the adhesive until use.  The liner is removed and discarded before application.  Most frequently found on double-coated tapes and labels.  Fluorosilicone liners are available in unique situations that required silicone adhesive to release.
Rewind Slitting – Preferred method for slitting large volumes of standard sized rolls of pressure-sensitive tape.  In this process, large master rolls of jumbos are used to unwind tape and then are rewound layer over layer across a set of pre-spaced cores.

Saturation (impregnation) – Adding material (saturant) to the backing for improvement of physical properties and resistance to various deleterious environments.
Self-Wound Roll – A roll of tape in which each layer of tape is directly on top of the last one.  The roll contains no liner.
Silicone – A unique polymer system that can be a very effective release coating, or pressure sensitive adhesive capable of functioning efficiently at extreme temperatures.
Silicone Adhesive – Adhesive system designed for sticking to silicone surfaces. (i.e.: splicing liners).
Single Coated Tape – A pressure-sensitive tape consisting of a carrier with adhesive coated only on one side.
Slip Sheet or Interliner – A treated sheet used to cover the adhesive to facilitate handling.
Splice – A point at which two separate lengths of tape are joined.
Spool (Traverse) Wound Rolls – One layer of tape starts on a side of the core.  The next layer overlaps with the first one and then the tape is wound back and forth traversing from one side of the core to the other.  This process allows for much longer rolls (up to 33,000yds depending on the width and thickness of product) thus reducing the downtime involved with constant roll changes. 

Tack – The condition of the adhesive when it feels sticky or highly adhesive.  Sometimes used to express the ideas of pressure sensitivity.
Tearing – Breaking or slivering of a tape during unwind.
Tear Resistance – The ability of a tape to resist tearing after a tear have been started by cutting or nicking of the edge.
Telescoping – A sideways sliding of the tape layers, one over the other, such that the roll looks like a funnel or a telescope.
Tensile Strength (brake strength) – The force required to break a piece of tape by pulling on opposite ends of the piece.

Machine direction tensile - Tensile strength measured parallel to the length of the tape.  Unless otherwise specified, tensile strengths are measured in the machine direction.
Cross direction tensile - Tensile strength measured at right angles to the length.
Wet tensile - Tensile strength of tape that has been kept wet for a specified period of time.  Measures ability of tape to function satisfactory when exposed to moisture.

Thickness – Distance from one surface of a tape, backing or adhesive to the other, usually expressed in mils or thousandths of an inch.  This is measured under slight pressure with a special gauge.
Tolerance – Maximum allowable variation from agreed-upon or specified dimensions throughout the manufacturing or converting process.
Transfer Tape – An unsupported pressure-sensitive adhesive tape. Transfer tapes consist of an adhesive and a coated release liner.
Uniformity – The consistency of a single type of tape either within a single roll, from roll to roll, or from lot to lot.
Unplasticized Vinyl (UPVC) – A tough, durable plastic film, similar to Plasticized PVC, but lacking the elongation numbers found in PVC due to the absence of plasticizers.
Unwind or Unwind Adhesion (unrolling) – The force required to remove the tape from the roll.

Vinyl or Plasticized Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) – A tough, durable plastic film having excellent resistance to oils, chemicals, and many solvents.  It has excellent abrasion resistance, and its high elongation is due to the addition of the plasticizer.
Vinyl Nitrile Sponge Rubber – Closed cell, single coated adhesive foam that offers good oil resistance and shock absorbency.
Void – A bare uncoated area on either the adhesive or release-coated side of the tape.


Water Penetration Rate – The rate of water transmitted through a controlled area of tape over a specified time and condition.
Weaving – A poorly wound roll of tape in which the individual layers of tape are not in alignment with one another.