Packaging tape or hot melt adhesive for carton sealing?

Tape vs. adhesive: Which is the best packaging solution?

Selecting the right material for your case and carton sealing application is an important decision. While this may seem insignificant compared to other decisions, the wrong choice could be disastrous. Achieving the perfect seal of your packaged goods or cases is crucial for reinforcing the quality and facilitating transportation logistics. So which sealing method is best overall in helping you achieve a guaranteed and positively impacting the sustainability of your business?

The two main sealing methods for case and carton sealing applications are hot melt adhesive and adhesive tape

  • Hot melt adhesive is a synthetic resin that liquefies when heated and is applied using a small, handheld applicator or a large automated system with multiple automatic applicators.
  • Adhesive tape is a pressure sensitive plastic or nylon-reinforced filament where a polymer is usually the main adhesive element.

Both are viable solutions for case and carton sealing and end-of-line packaging operations, but understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each can assist plant managers who are looking for the right closure method for their application.


Hot melt adhesives


  • The material is less expensive - it typically cost 50-75% less than packaging tape
  • Depending on the application and equipment used, the material savings could amount to significant amounts of money over time
  • Application flexibility - a large variety of material options and nozzle sizes
  • Ideal for high speed case & carton assembly - rapid set time
  • Continuous operation
  • Provides a higher structural strength - important for heavy packages
  • Long-term bonds - the key for shipping strength
  • Customer experience - open a package without knife or scissors
  • Appearance - a professional looking seal, no cracks or folds in tape


  • Higher equipment purchase costs
  • Potential higher operation costs
  • Potential safety riskd for operators
  • Operator training time

Adhesive tape


  • Lower equipment purchase and operation costs
  • Complete sealing of flap seams from environment
  • Ideal for slower, less frequent case erecting
  • Package size flexibility at lower volumes 
  • Minimal safety risks for operators


  • Downtime – manual reloading every 1,200-2,000 feet of tape
  • Inconsistency – tape covers several boxes if too close together
  • Tape breaks – resulting from minor nicks or sharp edges
  • Manual application process – operators are more hands-on
  • Storage space – needed for dispensers and replacement rolls 
  • Choosing the right tape – acrylic, hot melt, various grades of tape

Which method is best for your operation?

If you are running a high speed packaging line and need to produce larger volumes of similar sized boxes, hot melt adhesive will allow you to optimise your packaging process. With hot melt adhesive you will achieve the greatest throughput and cost savings in your sealing operations. For packaging lines producing lower volumes in a variety of boxes sizes, adhesive tape will be a sufficient method. 

Every application is different depending on the products being made and environment they are being manufactured in. Understanding any ongoing maintenance requirements and potential issues with the materials may provide the final piece of information to help determine the right decision. If you are unsure what sealing method is best for your production process, or interested in optimising your packaging lines, our team of packaging experts is here to help. Fill out the form above and a member of the Graco team will contact.