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Silicone vs. Acrylic vs. Rubber? The types of tape adhesive.

Updated: Sep 28, 2022

As described in the article “How Polyimide Tapes are Made”, tapes are composed of two distinct layers each of which is critical to the properties of the final product. The first layer is the backing material and whether this is polyimide film , polyvinyl chloride (PVC), Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), or some other plastic, cloth or paper material, this layer is selected to provide half of the tape’s final properties. The other half is determined by the adhesive layer applied to this backing layer.



THE USUAL SUSPECTS


Generally speaking, manufacturers use three different adhesive types in combination with the backing material to produce a final “tape” product. Though these adhesive types can be subdivided into subgroups, the main categories are as follows:

  • Silicone

  • Acrylic

  • Rubber

Each of these adhesive types have advantages and disadvantages which make them more or less suitable for particular applications. Here we will draw the major lines outlining these differences.


Silicone adhesives

Silicones have been used to formulate adhesive products for decades due to their flexibility, temperature cycling resistance, chemical resistance, and wide range of possible material properties. Silicone adhesives have the following general characteristics:

  • High flexibility (low modulus) at sub-ambient temperature

  • Consistent performance over wide temperature range

  • Excellent ageing and UV resistance (a reason they work so well in LED applications)

  • High temperature resistance

  • Good resistance to polar solvents

Compared to acrylic and rubber adhesives, they are significantly more expensive, but due to their excellent high temperature performance they are very well suited to splicing tapes, masking tapes and polyimide (Kapton) tapes.


Check out our silicone adhesive tapes


Polyimide Tape


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Green Polyester

Acrylic Adhesives


Acrylic adhesives can either be water-based or solvent-based. Water-based are slower drying compared to solvent-based systems but generally solvent-based acrylic systems have better resistance to other solvents, chemicals and water. Comparatively, water-based systems are less expensive than their solvent-based counter parts.



Solvent Based

The advantage of solvent-based adhesives is their strength, toughness and durability over time. Acrylic adhesives are generally divided into two subgroups: Pure and Modified


Pure acrylic

Pure acrylic adhesives share the following characteristics:

  • Reasonable adhesion to a wide range of substrates (see modified acrylics below)

  • Good ageing, transmittance and UV resistance (a reason they are often used in fiberoptic applications

  • Reasonable temperature resistance; between silicones (high resistance) and rubber (low resistance)

Pure acrylics have a lower tack (“stickiness when dry” for the layman) and less adhesion on hard-to-bond plastics such as high- and low-density polyethylene (HDPE & LDPE) and polypropylene (PP) than modified acrylic or rubber adhesives. Pure acrylic adhesives are mainly used on tapes whose applications are bonding, sealing or surface protection.


Modified acrylic

For all intents and purposes, modified acrylics have the same characteristics as pure acrylics, but have superior adhesion to the hard-to-bond-plastics mentioned above. Generally, these are more expensive than pure acrylics and are used for plastic bonding (including vinyl and linoleum), lamination and splicing.

DS Tissue Tape


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Ultra High Bond Tape

DS Red Polyester Tape

DS Foam Tape PE

Aluminum Foil Tape

Copper Foil Tape

Thermal Conductive Tape

Glow in the Dark Tape

iWars Tape Nano Technology Gel Tape

Mylar Polyester Tape



Water Based

One of the main advantages of water-based adhesives is that they are environmentally friendly due to their low volatile organic compound (VOC) content and are an economically viable alternative to solvent-based adhesives.

WB Bopp Tape


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Fiberglass Mesh Tape

WB Masking Tape



Rubber Adhesives


Just from looking at the roll, it is very hard to tell what type of rubber is used on the tape. Look at the figure to the right, and this same picture can be used to describe every type of rubber-tape below. The key is to ask the supplier what type of rubber adhesive is used. Like acrylics, rubber adhesives can be divided into two subgroups: Natural and Synthetic.


Natural rubber

These adhesive have higher tack than acrylic adhesives as well as higher shear strength but they have limited UV resistance.

PVC Electrical Insulation Tape ( Fr & Nfr )


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PVC Floor Marking Warning Tape

PVC Wire Harness Tape

PVC Pipe Wrapping Tape

Duct Tape

Masking Tape


Synthetic rubber

As the name implies, synthetic rubber is “formulated rubber” — think coming from the lab, not coming from the tree. Synthetic rubber can broken into three subgroups: Hot-melt, Solvent and Butyl rubber.


Hot-melt rubber

Hot-melt is a low-temperature melting plastic, which makes this adhesive have low temperature resistance. It also ages poorly (becoming brittle) and has low UV resistance. This rubber is used for low- to medium-duty carton sealing, low-temperature splicing as well as paper core starting applications.

Cross Filament Tape


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Kraft Paper Tape

Spacer Tape

HDPE Tape

DS Tissue Tape Hotmelt

DS Eva Foam Tape


Butyl rubber

Butyl rubber based tapes have excellent UV and aging resistance but lower mechanical strength. These tapes are used in foam tape applications and construction and plumbing applications such as pipe joints.

Butyl Flashing Tape



Stix Fix Tape



ADHESIVE OVERVIEW


CHARCTERISTIC

SILICON

ACRYLIC

RUBBER

Cost

Very High

Medium / High

Medium / High

Tack

Low

Medium / High

Medium / High

Temp Resistance

Very High

Medium / High

Medium / High

Adhesion

Medium / Low

Moderate High

Medium / Low

Shear

Medium / High

Moderate High

Excellent

Solvent Resistance

Poor

Good

Excellent

UV Resistance

Excellent

Poor

Excellent

Plasticizer Resistance

Poor

Moderate /Good

Excellent

Low Surface Energy

Excellent

Poor / Moderate

Poor

High Surface Energy

Excellent

Excellent

Moderate




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