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Reducing Damage and Increasing Carton Seal Strength with Water-Activated Tape

Case Study: Industrial Manufacturer


Long Cardboard Boxes

Crawford Packaging was contacted by a manufacturer who was dealing with poor polymer tape adhesion on their corrugate cartons. The cartons were long and not filled to capacity resulting in tape sealing problems. Employees needed to apply multiple layers of tape in an attempt to achieve a lasting seal. Due to the poor seal, tape strength was often failing and cartons would open during shipping. This would result in products become damaged during transport. The product damage was driving up costs due to the need to ship replacement parts for those damaged in shipping.

Crawford’s Packaging Specialist worked with the Manufacturer to improve their carton sealing consistency and strength. A Water-Activated Tape solution was added to the manufactures packaging solution. The added strength produced by WAT would help the tape bond with the carton, forming a complete seal and preventing packages from opening.


The Manufacturer was packaging long corrugate boxes that were not filled to capacity. The cartons void space resulted in a lack of pressure on the top flaps of the box while sealing. This lack of pressure prevented adhesion of the poly tape to the flaps of the carton when sealed. Due to poor seal on the cartons, employees were using multiple lengths of tape to try and achieve a strong seal. The extra application was greatly increasing the Manufacturer’s tape consumption rates and driving up per pack costs.


Crawford’s Packaging Specialist performed an initial packaging assessment with the Manufacturer. During the assessment, the Packaging Specialist identified the lack of sealing pressure issue. The bracing being used to hold the product still during shipping required the full height of the box. Unable to adjust the boxes size, the Packaging Specialist analyzed the sealing method. The lack of back pressure in the carton would make it difficult for poly tape to form an effective bond. One sealing method however, needs little to no back pressure, Water-Activated tape.

Better Pack 555e Gummed Tape Dispenser


Water-Activated Tape uses a starch based adhesive that activates when water is applied to the adhesive. The activated tape penetrates the carton material forming a permanent or "destructive" bond. WAT Tape is comprised of layers of craft paper and can include fiberglass or polyethylene strings for added strength. Water-Activated Tape dispensers apply water with a brush during the feeding process. Due to the speeds and long tape lengths need for each box, the Packaging Specialist recommended the Better Pack 555e Automatic Water-Activated Tape Dispenser. The 555e is a packaging machine that dispenses WAT at the push of a button, ready to apply. It is pre-programed with 14 preset lengths and is adjustable by ½ inch increments to maximize material use.


This knowledge based packaging solution has helped the Manufacturer improve their packaging productivity and eliminate damages during shipping. Cartons are now securely sealed with a single piece of Water-Activated Tape. This has improved employee production by decreasing the time to seal each carton. The increase in productivity is allowing for more cases to be sealed per hour. The Manufacturer is now experiencing improved cost effectiveness due to the increase in labour efficiency and a reduction in tape consumption. The strong seal provided by the Water-Activated tape is effectively sealing each carton, reducing damages during shipping and eliminating the cost of replacing and processing damaged products.

The Anatomy of Water-Activated Tape Layers Diagram

Crawford Packaging is a full-service packaging company located in London, Brampton and Waterloo, Ontario. From packaging to packaging equipment, installation and upgrades, and in-person equipment training and repair, we're focused on your business success every step of the way.