Packaging tape or hot melt adhesive for carton sealing?

Tape or adhesive: which is the best packaging solution?

Tape or hot melt adhesive: which is the best packaging solution? Make no mistake, selecting the right material for your case and carton sealing application is an important decision. While it may seem insignificant compared to other decisions, the wrong choice could be disastrous.

The perfect sealing of products to reinforce quality and improve transportation logistics is crucial for your business’s sustainability.

Material choice for case and carton sealing 

The two main material choices for case and carton sealing applications are hot melt adhesive and adhesive tape. 

  • Hot melt adhesive is a synthetic resin that liquefies when heated. It 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. The main adhesive element is usually a polymer.

Hot melt adhesive and adhesive tape compared

Since both materials are viable solutions for case and carton sealing and end-of-line packaging operations, understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each can assist plant managers in selecting the best solution for their needs.

Hot Melt Adhesive


  • Low-cost sealing material
  • High application flexibility due to different material options and nozzle sizes
  • Allows high-speed case and carton assembly
  • Guarantees continuous operation
  • Provides higher structural strength and long-term bonds
  • Allows easy case-opening without knife or scissors
  • Enables professional and smooth seal


  • Higher equipment purchase cost
  • Potential higher operation cost
  • Potential safety risk for operators
  • Requires operator training time


Adhesive Tape


  • Lower equipment purchase and operation costs
  • Complete seal of flap seams from environment
  • Package size flexibility at lower volumes
  • Minimal safety risk for operators


  • Longer downtime due to frequent manual reloading
  • Risk of tape breakages
  • Inconsistency in sealing quality and appearance
  • Manual, time-consuming application process
  • Higher material costs
  • Requires storage space


The best material for your sealing application

In general, hot melt adhesive provides the most viable material solution for case and carton sealing operations with larger volumes of similar-sized boxes. For operations with lower volumes and a variety of box sizes, adhesive tape may be the best material solution.

If each material is still an option, take the time to talk with Graco’s packaging specialists about your specific application to provide a better understanding of potential recurring costs. Understanding any ongoing maintenance requirements and potential issues with the materials may provide the final piece of information to help determine the right decision.

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