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Glossary of Tape & Label Terms

Below is a list of industry-related terms relating to tapes and labels. Still need help figuring something out? Click here to contact us.

 

ACETATE (cellulose acetate)
A transparent film that is used for various reasons in tape backings; the primary characteristic is that of being more moisture resistant than cellophane.

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.

ADHESION BUILD-UP
An increase in the peel adhesion value of a pressure sensitive tape after it has been allowed to dwell to the applied surface.

ADHESION TO BACKING
The bond produced by contact between a pressure sensitive adhesive and the tape backing when one piece is applied to the back of another piece of the same tape.

ADHESIVE
Any material that will usefully hold two or more objects together solely by intimate surface contact.

ADHESIVE DEPOSIT
Adhesive that is pulled away from the tape and remains on the surface to which the tape was applied.

ADHESIVE RESIDUE
See Adhesive Deposit.

ADHESIVE TRANSFER
The transfer of adhesive from its normal position on the tape to the surface to which the tape was attached' either during unwind or removal.

ADHESIVE TRANSFER TAPE
Adhesive that is designed to be pulled off its backing and can transferred to a product.

ADVANCEMENT ROLLER
A mechanism in tape dispensers that pulls tape through the machine and then pushes it out and through the cutting head to be cut.

BACKING
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.

BI-DIRECTIONAL
Related to strapping tapes in which the reinforcing material consists of filaments in both the length and 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.

CARRIER
Sometimes used to refer to the backing material, particularly in double-faced tapes.

CELLOPHANE (regenerated cellulose)
A thin, transparent film manufactured from wood pulp.

COATED CLOTH
Fabric with a rubber or plastic back coating to give increased moisture resistance and longer wear.

COHESION (cohesive strength, internal bond)
The ability of the adhesive to resist splitting. Good cohesion is necessary for clean removal.

CONFORMABILITY
The ability of tape to fit snugly or make essentially complete contact with the surface of an irregular object without creasing or folding.

CORE
The cylindrical, inner support piece that a roll of tape or labels is wrapped around. Often made of cardboard or plastic and bearing the insignia of the manufacturer.

CORE HOLDER
A round, plastic device mounted inside of a roll of tape or labels; allows the roll to be secured on a machine for dispensing. 

CREASER
An addition to a tape dispenser that puts a crease in thin film or flimsy tapes to reinforce them as they are dispensed and prevent them from curling.

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.

CUTTING HEAD
The area of a tape dispenser that includes the photosensor and cutting blade. Working together, they form the cutting head and perform the action of cutting each piece of tape.

DAISY CHAIN
The process of connecting multiple label dispensers together. When daisy-chained, the dispensers function as one and dispense in sync with each other.

DEAD STRETCH
The net increase in length after tape has been elongated without breaking and allowed to recover.

DELAMINATION
A separation of splitting of the tape (such as 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.

DIELECTRIC STRENGTH
The voltage that a tape will withstand without allowing passage of the current through it.

DISCOLORATION
See Stain.

DISHING
See Telescoping.

DOUBLE COATED
The adhesive is applied on both sides of the backing, which serves principally as a carrier for the adhesive.

EDGE CURL
The peeling back or lifting of the outer edge of a tape after application. See Cupping.

ELASTIC MEMORY
A tendency of some tape backings to attempt to return to their original length after being elongated.

ELONGATION (stretch, ultimate elongation)
The distance a tape will stretch lengthwise before backing; expressed as a percentage of original length. Elongation is not necessarily an indication of conformability.

FALL-OFF
Tape pulls completely away from the surface to which applied and drops off.

FEED SPEED
The velocity at which a tape or label is dispensed through a machine. Often represented in inches or millimeters per second.

FILAMENTS
Thin longitudinal "threads" of glass, polyester, nylon, or other high-strength materials.

FILAMENT TAPE
High performance, high strength tape constructed to close, reinforce, bundle, unitize, and seal products and packages.

FILM
Uniform, homogeneous, nonfibrous synthetic webs.

FLAKING
A condition (sometimes occurring during removal of masking tape) in which flakes or particles of paint break off the tape backing.

FLATBACK
Smooth paper backing.

FLEXIBILITY
The ability of a tape to be bent or flexed freely.

FLUOROCARBON FILMS
A film with very high and low temperature limits, excellent electrical characteristics, and a very slippery, non-sticking surface. One example is Du Pont's Teflon(polytetrafluorethylene).

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 base material such as natural or synthetic rubbers or other elastomeric materials.

FOOT PRINT
The size of the flat plane that a machine takes up on a workspace.

GAPPING
Openings between layers of tape within a roll.

GHOSTING
See Offsetting.

GLOSS
An appearance characteristic of tape backings; usually expressed by such terms as glossy, low gloss, matte, etc.

GUMMED TAPE
See Water-Activated Tape.

HEAT RESISTANCE
The ability of a tape to withstand exposure to specified temperatures after application to a surface. Clean removal after exposure may or may not be important depending on the intended function of the tape and the type of adhesive.

HIGH-SPEED UNWIND
Unwinding or dispensing of tapes at a relatively high rate of speed (usually more than 50 feet per minute).

HIGH TACK TAPE
Tapes that are extremely tacky or sticky, and tend to be very difficult to dispense (ex: foam tape, adhesive transfer tape, etc). These are best dispensed with a feed roller that is modified to be non-stick (example TDA080-NS).

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 amount of tape to come loose from a vertical panel.

HOLIDAY
A small defect, particularly in an electrical or pipe wrapping tape, that lowers the dielectric strength at the point of the defect below a certain desired minimum.

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.

IMPACT RESISTANCE (shock resistance)
The ability of a tape to resist sudden pulls or shocks as may sometimes be encountered by packages in transit.

INSULATION RESISTANCE
The ability of a tape to prevent the flow of current across its surface; usually measured on the backing.

INSULATING TAPE
Normally refers to tape used for electrical insulation.

KAPTON®
A thin, high-temperature tape often used in electronic masking applications

KRAFT
A sulfate wood pulp paper. See Saturation.

LABEL REWINDER
A machine that winds and unwinds spools of labels onto a core; often used for dispersing labels from an in-house printer to workers among a warehouse.

LABEL STOCK
Pressure sensitive materials that are usually printed, frequently die-cut, furnished in roll or sheet from with a liner, and intended for use as labels.

LAMINATING DISPENSER
A tape dispenser that bonds together then dispenses and cuts two or more rolls of tape together. This type of dispenser is often used in applications for motor manufacturing and coil winding that require layering of tapes (example: TDA080-LAM)

LAMINATION
A combination of two or more similar or dissimilar materials that function as one backing; for example, acetate and tissue in acetate fiber tapes.

LINER
Also referred to as “backing”. Protects the adhesive side of a tape or label and is often made of thin, coated paper.

LIFTING
A situation where a section of tape has pulled away from the surface to which it has been applied.

MASKING TAPE
Most commonly thought to be paper tape, yet there are many masking type tapes for different industrial applications (powder coating, electronic assembly, painting, etc.)

MASS
Sometimes used as another name for the adhesive.

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.

NON-WOVEN
A manufactured sheet, web, or batt of directionally or randomly oriented fibers bonded by friction and/or cohesion and/or adhesion (excluding paper and products that are woven, knitted, tufted, stitch bonded, incorporating binding yarns or filaments, or felted by wet milling).

NYLON
A strong plastic that can be used as a film with high oil and gas resistance or used as filament in strapping tapes with high impact resistance.

OFFSETTING
This 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 delaminating of the ink.

OOZING
A "squeezing out" of the adhesive from under the backing. If it occurs when the tape is in roll form, the edges of the roll become tacky.

OPAQUENESS
The ability of a tape to prevent the transmission of light.

PEAKING
Large, singular upheavals in the outer layers of a roll of tape.

PENETRATION RESISTANCE
The ability of a tape to resist slow puncture under pressure.

PHOTOELECTRIC SENSOR
See photosensor.

PHOTOSENSOR
A sensor mounted on a tape or label dispenser which facilitates the feeding of tape or labels based on the absence or presence of a material. Photosensors are a more reliable option than a limit switch for starting and stopping a dispenser, as they are solid state and do not come into contact with any materials being dispensed.

PLAIN CLOTH
Fabric woven from cotton, glass, or other fibers without further treatment.

POLYETHYLENE
A tough, stretchy film having very good low-temperature characteristics.

POLYESTER
A strong film having good resistance to moisture, solvents, oil, caustics, and many other chemicals. It is usually transparent.

POLYPROPYLENE
A cousin of polyethylene with generally similar properties but stronger and having a higher temperature resistance.

POLYVINYLIDENE CHLORIDE
A usually very thin transparent film with excellent resistance to acids, water, and organic solvents.

PRESSURE FEED
The area where tape is dispensed through and cut. The pressure feed can be adjusted to work more efficiently based on the properties of the tape being dispensed.

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 materials as paper, plastic, glass, wood, cement, and metals. They have a sufficiently cohesive holding and elastic nature so that, despite their aggressive tackiness, they can be handled with the fingers and removed from smooth surfaces without leaving a residue. General trade usage by leading tape manufacturers does not sanction extension of the term "pressure sensitive" to embrace tapes and adhesives merely because they are sticky (e.g. fly-papers) or merely because they adhere or cohere to a particular type of surface (e.g. self-sealing envelopes); terms other than "pressure sensitive" should be used in such cases to avoid confusion.

PRESSURE SENSITIVE TAPE
A combination of a pressure sensitive adhesive and a backing.

PRINTABILITY
The ability of tape to accept and hold a printed legend and resist offset of printing when rewound into a roll after printing.

PRINTING
The pattern of a tape left on a surface after tape has been removed. Most apt to occur when tape is applied to a freshly painted surface that has not fully hardened.

PROTECTIVE FILM
A low-tack adhesive often used in packaging to guard electronics or other fragile merchandise from scratches and wear on outer surfaces such as lcd displays.

PUCKERING
The uneven, non-flat condition of masking paper to which tape has been applied.

QUICK STICK (tack, finger tack, initial adhesion, wet grab)
The property of a pressure sensitive adhesive that allows it to adhere to a surface under very light pressure. It is determined by the ability of the adhesive to wet the surface contacted quickly.

RECOVERY
The difference between ultimate elongation and dead stretch.

REEL STAND
An external stand used with tape and label dispensers when rolls need to be dispensed that are outside the maximum diameter allowed on the machine.

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.

RELEASE COAT 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
A web or sheet of material covering the adhesive side of a tape. It is removed prior to application. Most frequently found on double-coated tapes and label stocks.

REMOVAL
The act of pulling tape away from the surface to which it has been applied.

RESIDUE
See Adhesive Residue.

RIDGING
A mound-like swelling on the outer layers of a roll lengthwise to the tape; usually found on the more moisture-sensitive materials (such as cellophane).

ROPE STOCK
A smooth paper made of hemp fiber for high tensile strength.

SATURATION (impregnation)
Adding materials (saturant) to the backing for improvement of physical properties and resistance to various deleterious environments. The backing of paper tapes, for instance, actually may contain as much as 50% by weight of a rubber-based impregnant.

SCORING
When the liner of a die-cut part or label is cut.  This happens when a die cuts the label or die-cut part too deep therefore cutting the liner.

SEPARATING
See Gapping.

SERRATED BLADE
A blade with notches along its sharp surface, which allow for thicker, more difficult-to-dispense tapes to be cut.

SHEAR ADHESION
See Holding Power.

SHRINKAGE
Reduction in any dimension of a tape.

SILICONE
A unique polymer system that can be a very effective release coating or pressure sensitive adhesive capable of functioning effectively at extreme temperatures.

SINGLE FACED
The adhesive is applied to one side of the backing only. Most pressure sensitive tapes are of this type.

SIZED
Fabric (usually cotton) treated to give added stiffness and easier handling.

SLIP SHEET OR INTERLINER
A treated sheet used to cover the adhesive to facilitate handling.

SLIVERING
Tape tears or breaks into small pieces either on unwind or removal from a surface.

SMOOTHNESS
The relative flatness of the tape backing.

SPLITTING
See Delamination.

STIFFNESS
The measure of a tape's flexibility and conformability.

STORAGE STABILITY (roll-aging resistance)
The ability of a tape to retain its original properties after storage.

STRINGINESS
A condition of the adhesive in which it feels very soft and mushy and, on close examination, relatively long "legs" or "strings" of adhesive can be pulled out of the adhesive.

STRIP PLATE
A piece of a label dispenser that performs the peeling process. Ideally, it is made from a sharp piece of metal, as opposed to plastic or a wound metal coil.  

TACKY
The condition of the adhesive when it feels sticky or highly adhesive; also used to express the idea of pressure sensitivity.

TEARING
Breaking or slivering of a tape during unwind.

TAKE UP HUB
An area of an electric label dispenser where the disposed liner is neatly gathered and wound onto a rod for easy removal and disposal.

TAPE GUIDES
Devices on a tape dispenser that conduct the alignment of tape as it moves through the dispenser.

TAPE WRAPPER
A type of tape dispenser that applies tape around bundles, as opposed to flatter surfaces. Often used on cables, wires, and cords.

TEAR RESISTANCE
The ability of a tape to resist tearing after cutting or nicking of the edge has started a tear.

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 (breaking strength)
The force required to break a piece of tape by pulling on opposite ends of the piece.

THERMOPLASTIC ADHESIVES
Adhesives that become softer as temperature increases, regardless of the number of heating cycles to which they are exposed.

THERMOSETTING ADHESIVES
Adhesives that set up or harden on first exposure to heat and remain set regardless of subsequent temperature cycles.

THICKNESS (caliper, gauge)
Distance from one surface of either a tape, backing, or adhesive to the other; usually expressed in mils or thousandths of an inch. This is usually measured under slight pressure with a special gauge.

TRANSFER
Normally refers to "adhesive transfer" but sometimes is said of any tape component that moves from its proper place to some other position during unwind or removal.

TRANSPARENCY
The ability of a tape to allow transmission of light. A tape is rated as transparent if 10-point type can be read easily when the tape is applied directly over it.

TWISTING
The curling around the lengthwise axis of a length of tape that has been unwound from the roll and allowed to hang freely.

ULTIMATE ADHESION
The maximum adhesion available from a pressure sensitive adhesive; determined by the force necessary to remove a strip of tape from a surface after an extended period of time.

UNIFORMITY
The consistency of a single type of tape, either within a roll, from roll to roll, or from lot to lot.

UNPLASTICIZED VINYL (UPVC)
A tough, durable plastic film differing from PVC principally in that UPVC is not very stretchy.

UNROLLING
See Unwind.

UNWIND or UNWIND ADHESION (Unrolling)
The force required to remove 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. It also can be colored. Its high stretch is due to the addition of a plasticizer.

VOID
A bare, uncoated area on either the adhesive or release-coated side of the tape.

WATER ACTIVATED TAPE
A type of tape, often with a paper backing, which the adhesive must be activated by water before it is adherent. Often used in shipping and packaging, as it bonds with corrugated cardboard even in dusty, dirty conditions.

WEAVING
A poorly wound roll of tape in which the individual layers of tape are not in alignment with the other layers.